THE AAM Aadmi Party has rejected the shabby office premises allotted to it in the Punjab Assembly, saying it should be given office space commensurate with the status of the largest opposition party.
Speaking to The Indian Express, senior AAP leader and leader of opposition, HS Phoolka said a dingy office in one corner of the Assembly had been offered to the party which is unacceptable. “The same small little room is supposed to have space for the leader of the opposition and for the party MLAs. We have registered our protest with the Speaker and told him that our office space should be as per our status of the largest opposition party. Even BJP with just three MLAs has a bigger office space than what has been offered to us,” he said.
Phoolka added that it seemed that the Assembly staff wanted to continue with the old arrangements of office space but the party will not accept them and that the Speaker, Rana KP Singh, has promised to intervene.
The chief whip of AAP in the Assembly, Sukhpal Singh Khaira, said the Congress had a much bigger office space as the main opposition party in the previous Vidhan Sabha. “We must be given the office space of the Congress as per our status and we completely reject this shabby space given to us. We also do not want that the two MLAs from Lok Insaaf Party, who are supporting us, should be made to sit far away from AAP benches. This is a deliberate ploy to divide our floor strategy and to harm us. We want these two MLAs to sit on the front benches with AAP,” said Khaira.
Khaira also lashed out at Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh, saying he had put into office an army of advisers which was even bigger in number than the Akalis. “Punjab cannot afford to make wasteful expenditure but here such a large number of advisers have been put in place which would definitely be a drain on expenditure with their designations being equivalent of ministers of state and Cabinet ministers, etc,” said Khaira.
The AAP chief whip said his party would support the state government for making a constructive approach towards governance but it would not mince words if it found that the ruling party was deviating from the promises it made to the people before being elected. “We strongly condemn the ministers of the government allowing their spouses to conduct official meetings and taking part in official deliberations. We hope this would stop immediately as it is not only against all rules and regulations but it also violates the oath of secrecy taken by the ministers,” he said.
Reacting to the recent decisions of the Cabinet, which appeared to be people friendly, Khaira said that as of now, these were just statements of intent and that it remained to be seen if any positive action would accrue from them. “We will keep a close eye on the actions and intent of this government,” he said.
Earlier in the day, the AAP MLAs were given lessons in orientation for the Assembly at the Sector 16 office of the party in Chandigarh. That meeting was also attended by the Ludhiana MLAs, Simarjit Singh Bains and Balwinder Singh Bains, the only MLAs with prior experience in the AAP alliance along with Khaira, who was a former Congress MLA.