Haryana speaker uses ‘carrot and stick’ policy to rein in opposition MLAs
The worry of the speaker was to ensure that the INLD and the Congress members don’t disrupt finance minister Capt Abhimanyu’s reply on the budget debate.india Updated: Mar 15, 2018 12:41 IST
The stance of Haryana Vidhan Sabha speaker Kanwar Pal on Tuesday was akin to wielding stick when he suspended Indian National Lok Dal’s (INLD) legislators till the duration of the ongoing budget session.
But on Wednesday, the tough-talking speaker switched to a soft approach while dealing with the INLD MLAs. First, the suspension of the INLD members was revoked. Later, every INLD MLA was permitted to participate in the debate on budget proposals during the eight-hour — without lunch break — sitting of the House.
Clearly, the proverbial carrot-and-stick policy was in full swing on Wednesday.
Last week, when chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar was wrapping the debate on the governor’s address to the Vidhan Sabha, the INLD and the Congress had made every attempt to derail Khattar.
On Wednesday, the strategy of the treasury benches was to persuade opposition parties to participate in the debate on budget in a cordial atmosphere. This was in sharp contrast to the speaker’s approach on Tuesday, when he told INLD members: “Either participate in the debate on budget or leave the House.”
The worry of the speaker was to ensure that the INLD and the Congress members don’t disrupt finance minister Capt Abhimanyu’s reply on the budget debate.
The strategy worked. The debate on budget was resumed a little before noon. Every INLD and the Congress MLA — barring a few who had spoken on the governor’s address — was allowed to speak.
Whenever the treasury benches tried to object to what the opposition members were saying the speaker was tough. For example, much to the delight of the opposition, the speaker sharply ticked-off minister of state Krishan Kumar Bedi, who was engaging directly Congress’ Shakuntla Khatak (Kalanaur) in a verbal duel. “You are a minister…This doesn’t mean you are above the law…I have told you several times earlier to address the chair and stop speaking directly with the members during the debate,” visibly angry Pal told Bedi.
In his address, leader of opposition Abhay Singh Chautala focused more on why Capt Abhimanyu was “sweating” while presenting the budget on March 9.
“You didn’t have to take note of my sweat had you understood the budget,” Capt told Chautala.
In her short but sharp speech, Congress Legislative Party (CLP) leader Kiran Choudhry highlighted “political gimmicks” the government was resorting to via the budget proposals.
She questioned the rationale behind allocating Rs 100 crore for SYL canal construction. “Our fields are parched and water doesn’t reach the tail ends. The government has made big promises, but no concrete steps have been taken to fulfil big promises,” Choudhry said, who cornered the government through her carefully crafted attack.
Most of the members, instead of dissecting the budget and pin-pointing flaws, used the occasion to list the demands of their segments and the BJP MLAs resorting to patting the back of the finance minister.
Amid the Speaker’s pro-opposition stance, even after Capt Abhimanyu was asked to give his reply at 5.10 pm, four INLD members pointed out that they had not spoken. The FM with folded hands urged the INLD members to sit down. But the speaker politely asked finance minister to sit down.
Finally, at 5.20pm Capt Abhimanyu began his address that he concluded in about 35 minutes, but not without taking pot-shots at Congress and the INLD in equal measure.