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Punjab budget session opening day: AAP walks out over guv’s war-on-drugs claim

Opening day: Two party MLAs stay back in House ignoring whip of the leader of opposition; no action against them as there was ‘communication gap’

punjab Updated: Mar 21, 2018 09:14 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Punjab budget session,budget session,war-on-drugs
Punjab governor VP Singh Badnore addressing the legislators on the first day of the budget session in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha in Chandigarh on Tuesday.(Keshav Singh/HT)

The Aam Admi Party (AAP) on Tuesday staged a walkout from the Punjab Vidhan Sabha when governor VP Singh Badnore during his address claimed that the state government’ is fighting the drug menace with an iron hand and is rehabilitating all addicts.

The governor was speaking on the opening day of seven-day-long budget session. On this, leader of opposition in the assembly and AAP leader Sukhpal Singh Khaira got up and shouted, “These are false facts, false facts,” and walked out along with 14 party MLAs.

  • Idea of the day: Leader of opposition Sukhpal Singh Khaira gave a suggestion to speaker Rana KP Singh for better use of time of the House. “Chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh says the cost of holding assembly proceedings comes to ₹70 lakh a day. After the obituary references, we can have a 15-minute break and do some business thereafter,” he urged the speaker.
  • Cheerleader member of the day: Local bodies and tourism minister Navjot Singh Sidhu was the most enthusiastic member on the treasury benches. During the governor’s address, every mention of welfare and other measures taken by the state government was greeted with thumping of desks by him and several other members. And the minister’s enthusiasm peaked when his department’s accomplishments were cited.
  • Faux pas of the day: While referring to the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev to be celebrated in November 2019, Governor VP Singh Badnore took the name of Guru Gobind Singh instead. He realised the mistake when the Vidhan Sabha secretary walked to him, and told him that he has taken the name of 10th master instead the first guru whose 550th birth anniversary falls next year.

However, two party MLAs — Amarjit Singh Sandhoa and Kultar Singh Sandhwan — chose to stay back ignoring the leader of opposition’s whip. Khaira said action will be taken against the two soon. Later, when the MLAs said there was some communication gap, it was decided that no action will be taken against them.

“The first task of my government was to set up a special task force (STF) to apprehend drug traffickers and break the supply chain. My government has busted eight modules used for the killing of Hindu, Christian and leaders of other communities. The government has set up the Justice Ranjit Singh commission to enquire into cases of sacrilege of Guru Granth Sahib, Quran and Bhagwat Gita,” said Badnore on crucial issues concerning the government.

Badnore said the government has also set up the Justice Mehtab Singh commission of inquiry to ensure justice to all those against whom false cases were registered during the previous (Shiromani Akali Dal-Bharatiya Janata Party) government.

“The commission has recommended cancellation of 225 cases besides recommended compensation and disciplinary action in 31 cases,” he said.

‘Punjab doesn’t have surplus water’

The governor claimed that the state government does not have surplus water and any attempt to transfer the waters of the Ravi, Beas and the Sutlej to other non-basin states will not be allowed. Expressing concern over depleting underground water, he said the government will make efforts to put ‘intelligent irrigation system in place.

Debt relief for farmers

Badnore said the state has requested the central government for financial support for farm debt waiver even as the latter is yet to take a decision on this. The state is fully committed to provide a relief of ₹2 lakh to small and marginal farmers each, he said.

“As promised, my government has abolished Section 67-A of the Punjab Cooperative Societies Act, 1961, to reassure farmers that there will be no auction of land (kurki) to recover pending dues from them. The government is also contemplating to amend the Punjab Agricultural Debt Reconciliation Act, 2016, to provide an effective forum for reconciliation of non-institutional loans of farmers. An agriculture policy which is being drafted will further streamline farmers’ issues,” said Badnore.

Aam Aadmi Party MLAs after staging a walkout in the House. ( Keshav Singh/HT )

Infant mortality down

Badnore said infant mortality in the state has come down considerably from 44 per 1,000 births in 2005 to 21 per 1,000 births in 2016. “With opening of 10 state-of-the-art mother and child hospitals at Ludhiana, Patiala, Amritsar, Bathinda, Barnala, Mohali, Kapurthala, Batala, Manawala and Ajnala, there will be further reduction in infant mortality,” he said.

‘Will mark Guru Nanak’s 550th birth anniv’

The governor announced in the House that the government will celebrate the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev in November 2019. “The preparation has already started. The government will also commemorate 100 years of the Jallianwala bagh massacre in April 2019,” he said.

First Published: Mar 21, 2018 09:14 IST