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Thursday, Oct 17, 2019

Monsoon session: Ruckus in Himachal House over PC’s arrest

Congress members, led by Mukesh Agnihotri, stage a walkout terming the arrest as ‘murder of democracy’

india Updated: Aug 22, 2019 23:27 IST
Gaurav Bisht
Gaurav Bisht
Hindustan Times, Shimla
Leader opposition Mukesh Agnihotri along with Congress legislatures raising anti-government slogans outside the House in  Shimla on Thursday.
Leader opposition Mukesh Agnihotri along with Congress legislatures raising anti-government slogans outside the House in Shimla on Thursday. (Deepak Sansta/HT)

Ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and opposition Congress on Thursday exchanged barbs over the arrest of former Union minister P Chidambaram, who is named in a money laundering case.

On the fourth day of the monsoon session, leader of opposition Mukesh Agnihotri raised a point of order soon after the Question Hour and criticised the arrest as he termed it as “undemocratic”. However, he was stopped from raising the issue by speaker Rajeev Bindal who stated that no prior notice was given for the discussion. Agitated, Congress MLAs rose from their seats and started raising anti-government slogans which were countered by BJP MLAs. Amidst the uproar, which continued for almost 20 minutes, speaker Rajeev Bindal proceeded with the day’s work before the opposition staged a walkout from the House.

Speaking to reporters outside the House, Agnihotri described Chidambaram’s arrest as ‘murder of democracy’. “There is an undeclared emergency-like situation in the country. The government is using ED and CBI to destroy Congress leaders,” he said. Lone Communist party of India (Marxist) leader and Theog legislator, Rakesh Singha also critisised the arrest.

Condemning the walkout by Congress, chief minister Jai Ram Thakur said the issue raised by opposition was not related to the state. Quoting Delhi high court’s judgement which rejected Chidambaram’s bail plea, Thakur said, “Prima facie, proof shows Chidambaram appeared to be kingpin, the key conspirator in the case. The magnitude and enormity of material produced by the investigating agencies disentitles him from any pre-arrest bail.”

He said Chidambaram was arrested only after the Delhi high court rejected his anticipatory bail plea after hearing his case for one year. “After rejecting the bail plea, the CBI and the ED had issued him summons to appear, but he didn’t,” the chief minister said.

“This is an economic offence and has to be dealt with iron hands. The hands of investigating agencies cannot be tied up in such a massive economic offence. The judge also said that the petitioner has been evasive in his replies and has not cooperated with investigations,” he said.

“The BJP will ensure that law is applied equally to everyone, whether the rich or the poor, the VIP or ordinary,” Thakur added.

Later, Congress members joined the proceeding of the House.

2018 saw dip in tourists visiting HP: CM

The number of foreign and domestic tourists visiting Himachal declined by 10 per cent in the April-June 2018 tourist season as compared to the corresponding period in 2016 and 2017, Thakur said. As per the data provided by Thakur in the state assembly, 1.25 lakh foreign tourists visited the state in the tourist season from April to June last year. The number was over 10 per cent less as compared to foreigners visiting Himachal Pradesh in the three months in 2016 and 2017.

First Published: Aug 22, 2019 23:27 IST

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