Punjab assembly: As paper missiles fly over sand, AAP MLAs suspended for day, Bains for rest of session
As AAP legislators demanded that Khaira’s motion be taken up, their slogans rented the air: “Land-sand mafia murdabad”, and other words that were expunged by the speakerUpdated: Jun 15, 2017 21:26 IST
All 20 Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) legislators were suspended for the day, and their ally Simarjeet Singh Bains of the Lok Insaaf Party (LIP) for the remainder of the budget session till June 23, after they created a ruckus in the Punjab assembly over the alleged scam in auction of sand mines by the Congress regime, on Thursday afternoon.
Shortly before 1pm, speaker Rana KP Singh adjourned the House for the third and final time for the day, after ordering suspension of the MLAs for throwing papers at him and heckling the marshals who stopped them from climbing his dais. Such was the pandemonium that marshals climbed the elevated platform of the speaker to save him from the flying bundles of papers. On one occasion, he had to duck to avoid getting hit by a bundle.
He received a specific complaint against Bains from Congress MLA Kulbir Singh Zira that he tore Vidhan Sabha papers kept on his desk on Wednesday. “This can lead to a privilege motion against Bains,” said an assembly official.
The ruckus started soon after the House reassembled at 12.30pm, and the speaker rejected an adjournment motion moved by AAP’s Sukhpal Singh Khaira on the sand-mine auction held in May. In that auction, some “former” employees of power minister Rana Gurjit Singh got contracts. Chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh has ordered a judicial inquiry but has refused to sack Rana.
As AAP legislators demanded that Khaira’s motion be taken up, their slogans rented the air: “Land-sand mafia murdabad”, and other words that were expunged by the speaker . Members of the other opposition parties, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), sat quietly.
The protest escalated quickly, and the speaker yelled at Bains for repeatedly hurling papers at him despite warnings. “I name you, I name you,” the speaker said, pointing towards Bains, meaning suspended for the remaining session days in legislative terminology.
After the adjournment, the AAP and LIP MLAs held a mock session in the Vidhan Sabha lobby.
Walking out of the house, the CM criticised the opposition’s behaviour as “unacceptable” and termed the episode “the first such since I have come into politics”. He added, “Two MLAs, Bains and Khaira, acted like goons in the House in the time that was meant to discuss people’s issues.”
But the leader of opposition, HS Phoolka, the MLAs were “forced to take the extreme step” as they were not heard.
Just before the ruckus, as the speaker started taking resolutions from MLAs, the first one was by Congress MLA Hardial Singh Kamboj, praising the government for “smooth” procurement and payments for wheat crop. He criticised the previous SAD-BJP government for “causing a mess” in procurement during their tenure.
But nine other resolutions could not be tabled. These included praise for the government by the ruling party MLAs and a call for action on drugs and farm debt waiver by those from the opposition.
Colour of the day: Local bodies minister Navjot Singh Sidhu, who sits in the front row of treasury benches, wore a fluorescent green turban and white clothes. This was a departure from his recent preference for dark kurta-pyjamas and pathani suits.
Faux pas of the day: While presenting a resolution, Congress MLA Hardial Singh Kamboj committed a mathematical error, saying that paddy procured by the previous government was 1.2 lakh tonne. The figure was 120 lakh.
Well moment of the day: As AAP and LIP MLAs jostled with marshals in attempt to climb the platform where the speaker was sitting, some Congress MLAs, including Sukhjinder Randhawa, Navtej Singh Cheema and Gurkirat Kotli, reached the well in an apparent confrontation. But they were sent back by senior leaders on the treasury benches.
Barb of the day: AAP’s Sukhpal Khaira, who has gone all-out after power minister Rana Gurjit Singh in the mine auction row, repeatedly tried to raise the issue in the House during Question Hour. Parliamentary affairs minister Brahm Mohindra politely asked him to take up the matter during Zero Hour. But CM Capt Amarinder Singh also got up and flayed the “disruptive behaviour” of the AAP legislator, who once used to be a Congress MLA. “Aeh Kapurthala siyasat da dangal nahin hai (This is not the political arena of Kapurthala),” he retorted. Both Rana and Khaira represent adjoining constituencies in Kapurthala district.
Action replay of the day: Local bodies minister Navjot Singh Sidhu was in full flow. He never missed any opportunity to hit out at the Akalis throughout the day with his one-liners. When speaker Rana KP Singh expunged a word from his “Baba Badal ’te chaali ...” dig in the first hour, he responded with laughter and a clap. But it didn’t deter him. He repeatedly used the word in different one-liners. The speaker kept expunging it.
Tip of the day: Congress MLA Balbir Sidhu has his own take on how to take care of huge debt of the state. Referring to arrested mandi board superintending engineer Surinder Pal Singh Pehalwan’s colossal assets estimated at Rs 1,200 crore, the MLA said if the state government catches 25 persons like this official, it could take care of the state’s debt. “There is a need to do this,” he said, praising the Captain government for the action.
Post script: Congress and Akali MLAs continued to take digs at each other even after the speaker adjourned the House for half an hour during Question Hour due to ruckus over the issue of farm debt. CM Capt Amarinder Singh and his ministers and MLAs did not leave the House. As a few Akali legislators were also there, Congress MLA Amrinder Singh Raja Warring told former finance minister Parminder Dhindsa that the SAD government had left the exchequer empty. Dhindsa just smiled. “We are not fools. We spent money on development of the state,” said SAD’s NK Sharma.
First Published: Jun 15, 2017 19:44 IST