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Punjab assembly session | Decoding Day 2: Sukhpal Khaira, Bikram Majithia not complaining, nor is Congress

AAP’s Sukhpal Khaira had played the opening shot on Monday with an expose by allies, Bains brothers of the Lok Insaaf Party, alleging judicial corruption behind court summons to him in a drug case.

punjab Updated: Nov 29, 2017 09:42 IST
Sukhdeep Kaur
Sukhdeep Kaur
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Punjab assembly,winter session,Sukhpal Khaira
CM Capt Amarinder Singh with Congress leaders and others during a press conference at the assembly in Chandigarh on Tuesday.(Keshav Singh/HT)

The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) had been building up steam against leader of opposition Sukhpal Khaira in the run-up to the winter session. But it was not how it led the attack on the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader inside the House on Tuesday.

Khaira had played the opening shot on Monday with an expose by allies, Bains brothers of the Lok Insaaf Party, alleging judicial corruption behind court summons to him in a drug case.

At a press conference later, Khaira had accused both the Congress and Akali leaders of being hand-in-glove in the conspiracy against him.

But Khaira’s adjournment motion to discuss the expose in the House was filed at 9.30am, half-an-hour before Tuesday’s session began. As per rules, an adjournment motion on any matter of public interest has to be moved at least two hours before the House sitting.

No wonder it was rejected by speaker Rana KP Singh. But Khaira should not be complaining. The Akalis had mellowed down their attack and the ruling Congress had no plans to take him on.

The government’s strategy was to be silent spectator to the Akali-AAP faceoff as going after Khaira would have raised questions on chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh’s stand on former Akali minister Bikram Singh Majithia. A section of the Congress MLAs have been demanding a probe against Majithia on basis of statements given by accused in the infamous Jagdish Bhola drug case to the Enforcement Directorate (ED). Outside the House, Punjab Congress chief Sunil Jakhar has more than once demanded Khaira’s resignation.

The Congress spin masters are happy too as the government was saved the awkwardness of taking a stand on either Khaira or Majithia

After the day’s sitting ended, Khaira seemed nonchalant. He has a new scoop, “judgegate”, and had backing of party, including his predecessor, HS Phoolka. “The Congress is behaving like the Akalis. The government is running roughshod over the opposition,” he said. In Khaira’s letter to the speaker before the House session, there is no mention of drugs among the issues but farmer suicides. But that was an issue that Akalis had picked up as the opposition in the House on Tuesday.

At his office, Majithia too was basking in what he called a “surprise move” that outwitted both the Congress and AAP.

“The government was thinking we would play into its hands by taking on the AAP. It’s stupid to think that our job as opposition is to expose the leader of opposition. Khaira has already been exposed. Our role is to take on the government which has lured farmers through false promises on debt waiver and they are committing suicides everyday,” he said.

Inside the ruling camp

The Congress spin masters are happy too. The government was saved the awkwardness of taking a stand on either Khaira or Majithia. The treasury benches, including the CM, looked amused when the two took on each other. Not too long ago in the June session, the two opposition parties had closed ranks against the government. Parliamentary affairs minister Brahm Mohindra called the ruckus created by both parties inside the House as a “facade”. He said Khaira had listed important questions such as vacant posts in the health department, but he did not wish to hear their answers.

“The question hour is important for the opposition. They can raise issues of public interest and their constituency. But both parties disrupted it. Zero hour is mainly for the opposition.

They could have demanded its extension by going to their seats. They could have also proposed more calling attention notices. Their adjournment motions were cancelled for valid reasons,” he said.

Amarinder too hit out at the opposition parties accusing them of wasting public money. “It was for the first time that two opposition parties were fighting in the House between themselves instead of taking up meaningful issues in the interest of the people of the state,” he said.

First Published: Nov 29, 2017 09:41 IST