Leader of Opposition in the Punjab Assembly, HS Phoolka of AAP, Thursday accused Congress of trying to poach his party’s newly elected MLAs with inducements of various kinds.
Speaking to the Indian Express a day before the newly constituted Assembly commences its session, Phoolka said there was no question of any AAP MLA falling for Congress’s offers. “There have been instances where two-three MLAs of our party were approached by Congress leaders who asked them to switch sides for lucrative posts in the government,” he said. However, Phoolka said, MLAs had flatly refused the Congress offers.
Phoolka said AAP MLAs would not follow in Congress’s footsteps and allow the ruling benches to get away scot-free. “Congress allowed Badals to do all kinds of excesses on people of Punjab and walk away. If they expect AAP to do the same, they are mistaken. We will play constructive Opposition but will not be a silent Opposition,” he said.
Phoolka said since this was the first session of the new Assembly, vote-on-account would be presented in the House and they would not put any hindrances.
“But Congress must follow its manifesto. As long as they do so, we will fully support them. But certain time-bound promises must be made and provisions to fulfill these promises must be made on the floor of the Assembly,” he said.
“For example, the ruling party has said it will check the drugs problem in 30 days. But it is also important that the de-addiction centres also are upgraded and have the facilities to manage the addicts. Also, the issue of supply of drugs has to be addressed. As long as the treasury benches make provisions for this, we will not prove to be a hindrance,” said Phoolka.
With respect to the fact that AAP has 19 first-time MLAs out of the total 20 that it has, not counting the two Independent MLAs, Bains brothers from Ludhiana, Phoolka said the new MLAs would be taught the basics of Assembly proceedings. “To begin with, we have called a meeting of the MLAs in our party office in Chandigarh on March 24, when they would be given a quick walk-through on the Assembly procedures by our senior leader Sukhpal Khaira and the two Bains brothers,” Phoolka said.
Referring to allegations of misuse of EVMs levelled by AAP’s national convenor Arvind Kejriwal, Phoolka said the issue was first raised by a BJP leader in a book in which L K Advani wrote the foreword. “Later, this issue was also raised by Captain Amarinder Singh. The Supreme Court has already asked for VVPAT machines to be set up along with EVMs. Therefore, our demand is that the EVMs should be accountable and auditable for the result they provide,” he said.