Chandigarh: Being the ‘Elder of the House,’ 87-year-old Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal on Tuesday made best possible efforts to persuade Congress MLAs to end their agitation and come out of the Vidhan Sabha where they have been staying put since Monday even after the adjournment of the House but he failed in his bid as the agitators rejected his appeal, announcing that they would vacate the House only after receiving an assurance from the Speaker Charanjit Singh Atwal for a proper debate on the ‘no confidence motion’ against the government.
It is pertinent to mention that motion was put on debate on Monday and finding the ruling alliance and the Opposition all indulged in ruckus, the Speaker, in a hurried move, put it to voting and being the SAD-BJP in MLAs in majority the motion was defeated as well. The Opposition, which had come well prepared to take on the treasury benches on different issues, took the move as an act of cheating and immediately sat in dharna inside the House for an indefinite period.
The Congress MLAs who were about 33 in the House when the agitation was launched reduced to 27 by midnight as some of them had to leave for their personal works and health issues. Meanwhile, the Vidhan Sabha staff asked them to leave the House, which they declined and finally the authorities concerned switched off lights and air-conditioners but as the Congress MLAs were exploiting the social networking sites for keeping masses posted with their each and every activity, the Vidhan Sabha staff had to resume power supply after some time. On Tuesday morning when five Congress MLAs including the senior ones Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Lal Singh and Brahm Mohindra were on their way to join their fellows in the Vidhan Sabha, they were intercepted at the outer security ring of the Vidhan Sabha. The Vidhan Sabha security staff informed them that no one was allowed to enter the premises, which created a ruckus on the spot.
The Congress MLAs had a word with the Vidhan Sabha secretary Shashi Lakhanpal Mishra but she too expressed her inability saying that the orders were of the Speaker which she was bound to abide by. The Congress MLAs then attempted to contact the Speaker but learnt that he was admitted at a hospital in Ludhiana. Finding no one ready to listen to them, the MLAs called up their own party colleagues from inside the House and the Congress MLAs from both sides jostled with the security personnel but failed to get the entry. Finally, they burnt the effigy of the state government and raised anti-establishment and anti-Speaker slogans near the High Court Chowk, with also blocking the main road leading to the Vidhan Sabha and Punjab Civil Secretariat.
PRIVILGE MOTION AGAINST SPEAKER
Bhattal and Lal Singh said that they would move a privilege motion against the Speaker and Punjab government. Lal Singh said that they were being treated like terrorists, wondering as to how MLAs could be stopped from entering the Vidhan Sabha. The entry of the media to the House was also banned. Later, the Vidhan Sabha staff circulated a letter through social media, which stated that being it a holiday, it was decided to keep the Vidhan Sabha closed for maintenance purposes and no one unless having the permission of Speaker was allowed to enter the premises.
CM BADAL EXPRESSES PAIN
When the Chief Minister with his personal staff and security visited the Vidhan Sabha at around 12 to placate the agitating Congress MLAs, he also didn’t forget to mention: “I would have come even earlier but due to formalities regarding securing permission from the honourable Speaker as he was visiting a hospital for a check-up, delayed his visit.” While making an appeal to the Congress legislators to join the proceedings of the House on Wednesday, Badal requested them to end their protest. He said: “I am really pained by the inconvenience which you have had to go through here and request you to end it right away.”
“I appeal to you with folded hands, both in my personal capacity and as the Leader of the House to join the proceedings of the House as it resumes on Wednesday. We all are here to perform our duties in the House as representatives of the people who have sent us here,” said Badal during his odd-20 minutes meeting with the Congress legislators.
Outrightly rejecting Badal’s appeal, the Leader of Opposition Charanjit Singh Channi said that he approached the Congress MLAs just empty handed with no proposal to break the stalemate. “It was just a political stunt, a mere photo opportunity. The CM came with an official photographer but without any proposal on the discussion on the current issues regarding the state. The Congress party reiterates its demand to have time for discussion on the current issues of Punjab on Wednesday,” said Channi.
He also referred to his allegations against Sukhbir Singh Badal and Bikram Majithia for which he had submitted a complaint to Punjab DGP Suresh Arora. Joining the issue, Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) president Captain Amarinder Singh congratulated his party legislators for the whole scene and stated that it was for the first time in the history that “the opposition has made the government to walk out of the house.”
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