Punjab assembly session: AAP-LIP MLAs milk audio clip, outshout experienced Akalis
The Akalis, who had openly declared beforehand their intention of going after leader of opposition Sukhpal Singh Khaira of the AAP and press for his resignation, appeared to have an off day.Updated: Nov 28, 2017 22:48 IST
A bitter battle between the two opposition alliances led by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) over the drug taint issue disrupted proceedings of the Punjab assembly on the second day of the winter session, with both sides trying to outshout the other.
Members of the AAP-Lok Insaaf Party (LIP) and SAD-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) raised slogans almost throughout the 95-minute proceedings, and the treasury benches went ahead with the day’s business amid the din.
But it was the AAP and LIP members, mostly first-timers, who were more combative and put their experienced rivals in the shade. The Akalis, who had openly declared beforehand their intention of going after leader of opposition Sukhpal Singh Khaira of the AAP and press for his resignation, appeared to have an off day.
The AAP legislators, fired up by the controversial audio clip released by two MLAs of LIP about a bid to allegedly bribe a high court judge in a case against Khaira, had decided to respond to the Akali threat with a full-on counter-offensive. They stuck to the script from the get-go, demanding an adjournment motion for a discussion on the “judicial scandal”.
When speaker Rana KP Singh asked them to take up the issue after the Question Hour, the AAP and LIP members, except former leader of opposition HS Phoolka, rushed to the well of the House, carrying placards and seeking a CBI inquiry into the audio clip. They also started shouting slogans to rake up the drug controversy during the previous government. A few placards also had an alleged photograph of former Akali minister Bikram Singh Majithia with those named in a drug probe.
Akali and BJP legislators responded with counter-sloganeering against Khaira, but much of it was not audible in the din. The speaker expunged the slogans from the record. The Akali members also subsequently waved papers showing photographs of Khaira with former Dhilwan market committee chairman Gurdev Singh who has been convicted in a drug case last month.
Rana KP again asked the opposition members not to disrupt the Question Hour and decided to go ahead with the proceedings. However, the two sides continued with their sloganeering. The AAP pressed for CBI inquiry whereas the SAD also raised the farm debt waiver issue then, accusing the Congress government of not fulfilling their promise.
Former chief minister Parkash Singh Badal was in the House for the first few minutes, but left before the Akali and BJP members entered the well of the House. The spat came to a boil when members of the two sides came face to face with only the assembly staff’s table separating them. They shouted slogans against each other, testing their lung power. As the questions were also over, the speaker immediately adjourned the House for half an hour.
Zero hour: AAP seeks CM’s statement on audio clip
In the Zero Hour, Khaira referring to the audio clip that was released by the Bains brothers of LIP on Monday, and said that a web was woven around him and he was wrongfully framed. “Sukhbir Singh Badal (SAD chief) and Rana Gurjit Singh (power minister) are trying to frame me. We need a CBI inquiry into the matter to know who’s behind this. I want the CM to give a statement on the matter,” said Khaira.
Kanwar Sandhu of the AAP asked the government to give clarity on the work done by a special investigation team into the drug cases. “We want to know who all have been named as guilty of drug trade by the SIT and the names of politicians that have figured during the investigations. We want their names to be revealed,” he said, while seeking debate on the issue.
The AAP also protested the failure to hold a debate on issues such as illegal mining and non-implementation of the debt waiver. But it was symbolic, as the MLAs went outside and immediately came back to be part of further proceedings.
First Published: Nov 28, 2017 21:31 IST