Pandemonium prevailed in the Assembly on Friday with opposition BJP resorting to strong protests to press its adjournment motion to discuss corruption charges against Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh and his family members stakes in Vakamulla Chander Shekhars firm Tarini Infrastructure Ltd.
The House witnessed slogans,unruly scenes,heated exchanges and interruptions as Speaker BBL Butail,who rejected the BJP motion,unsuccessfully tried to restore order after a war of words broke out between the opposition and ruling party MLAs.
Immediately after the Speaker announced that he had rejected the motion,the BJP MLAs entered the well of the House and trooped close to the treasury benches to continue their protests refusing to listen to the Speaker’s requests to return to their seats.
The scenes could have turned really ugly when Power Minister Sujan Singh Pathania,finding the interruption too provocative,unsuccessfully tried to pull out the mike from his table to hit shouting BJP members. Other MLAs stopped him.
Some Congress MLAs — Sanjay Rattan,Ajay Mahajan,Rakesh Kalia,Vinay Kumar — and two independents Rajender Rana and Pawan Kajal stood close to Pathania to counter the BJP aggression.
Trouble started early in the day when the House was convened after BJP MLA Rikhi Ram Kaundal wanted to know fate of the adjournment motion tabled by 14 BJP MLAs .He waved copies of newspapers and some loose papers and said there were serious allegations against the Chief Minister and his family members.
Its a very serious issue and we must know the decision of the Chair so that a discussion is taken up by the House, he told the Speaker.
On Thursday,former chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumals son Arun Singh had released some papers relating to Virbhadra Singh s family members — Pratibha Singh (wife),Vikramaditya Singh (son) and Aparjita Singh (daughter) — allegedly owning a total of 9.80 lakh shares in the company of Delhi businessman Vakamulla Chander Shekhar .
Chander Shekhar’s other company M/s Venture Energy and Technologies also owns a hydel project in the state,licence for which was initially cancelled by the government but later restored and also given extension though the company still has a liability of Rs 58 lakhs. He has also given a loan of Rs 3.90 crores to Virbhadra Singh and his wife Pratibha Singh.
Kaundal was soon joined by Ravinder Ravi,a former BJP minister,who revealed some more facts about the shareholdings of Virbhadra Singh’s family members. He said neither Chief Minister nor Pratibha Singh,who is MP,disclosed these investments during the elections in 2012 and later the Lok Sabha by-election.
This is the same man who has given loan and was granted favours by the Congress government for his hydel project. We agree investing in shares is not a crime but why did the CM and Congress MP not disclose it in the affidavits filed before the Election Commission (EC)? he asked.
Uproar continued in the House as the opposition demanded suspension of question hour. The Speaker said newspaper headlines don’t make a case for discussion or suspension of question hour unless he gets more facts. He turned down the opposition request.
BJP MLAs,led by Dhumal entered the well of the House to raise slogans. They also distributed newspaper clippings to Congress ministers and MLAs,including Asha Kumari,Rakesh Kalia,Sujan Singh Pathania and Thakur Singh Bharmouri.
Health minister Kaul Singh Thakur,who was officiating for the Chief Minister in the House,said since the motion had been rejected by the Speaker,there is no ground for discussion. Moreover,anyone is free to hold shares in a company. The issue does not warrant discussion.
Move Election Commission: Thakur
Defending the investments of Virbhadra Singhs family members in Tarini Infrastructure Kaul Singh Thakur dared the BJP to approach Election Commission India (ECI) if they had any problem with the affidavits filed by the Chief Minister during Assembly elections.
Speaking to mediapersons on behalf of the CM both inside and outside the House after it was adjourned Thakur said the opposition was wasting the valuable time of the House by tabling an adjournment motion on frivolous issues.
He wondered why the BJP was raising the issue of investments of Chief Ministers family members as there was nothing illegal in it. If they felt that the Chief Minister has concealed information in his affidavits,then Election Commission of India was the appropriate forum to lodge any complaint.
Two other ministers Mukesh Agnihotri (Parliamentary afffairs) and Sudhir Sharma (Urban development) who led a demonstration by Congress MLAs in the Assembly complex to protest the unruly behaviour of the BJP,said the opposition is frustrated due to the state governments achievements in the past year,and the drive to expose corruption and irregularities of the previous government led by Prem Kumar Dhumal.