Himachal assembly’s winter session: Pandemonium in House, angry protests outside

Later, inside the House, Satpal Satti sought to raise the matter and reminded the Speaker that he had done grave injustice to the Opposition while taking Congress’s side.

Written by Ashwani Sharma | Dharamshala | Updated: December 23, 2016 1:30 am
himachal-759 The suspended BJP MLAs stage a sit-in inside the Vidhan Sabha complex Thursday. Express Photo

Complete pandemonium prevailed in Himachal Pradesh Vidhan Sabha during the question hour on Thursday following BJP protests over suspension of three of its MLAs and restrictions imposed on their entry to the Assembly complex, which the BJP termed as a sharp reminder of “Emergency era”.

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During the protests and sloganeering, Leader of Opposition Prem Kumar Dhumal and Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh also traded bitter charges over “violation” of House norms.

When Speaker B B L Butail disallowed BJP members to raise the issue and instead decided to proceed with the question hour, the opposition staged a walk-out while raising questions on Butail’s decision to suspend three BJP MLAs – Suresh Bhardwaj, Dr Rajeev Bindal and Randhir Sharma.

Trouble started early in the day when security officials and police stopped the three suspended MLAs from entering the Vidhan Sabha complex and showed them orders passed by the Speaker authorising them to stop the MLAs at the gate.

When other BJP MLAs, who were holding a meeting for their day’s strategy, came to know of it, they rushed to the main gate of the complex, led by Dhumal, Ravinder Ravi, Satpal Satti and Jairam Thakur, besides a few other young MLAs. High drama ensued as they challenged the police and security officials stopping the three MLAs. Eventually, they forced their entry and led them in a procession to the inner gate of the Vidhan Sabha building, where the Opposition staged a dharna amidst heavy deployment of police personnel.

Here, Dhumal questioned the legality of the Speaker’s orders to ban MLAs from entering the Vidhan Sabha complex, arguing that the suspension of MLAs related only to their participation in the House, and not their movement inside the complex.

“It’s the democratic right of elected MLAs come to the Vidhan Sabha,” he said.

Later, inside the House, Satpal Satti sought to raise the matter and reminded the Speaker that he had done grave injustice to the Opposition while taking Congress’s side.

The decision to suspend the MLAs were not as per norms and it should be revoked, he said.

Intervening, the Speaker stood by his decision and offered to show the House records to Dhumal at his chamber after the question hour. He also asked to let the House proceed with the day’s agenda to which Dhumal expressed helplessness, resulting in noisy scenes when Speaker refused to budge.

While treasury benches started participating in the question hour, BJP members continued sloganeering, created a din in the House.

Dhumal, when allowed to make his point, launched a fresh attack against the Speaker and also quoted his ruling wherein he spoke about changing the House norms.

Dhumal also clashed with Chief Minister whom he accused of himself having violated House norms as he had thrown papers at secretary of the Vidhan Sabha when BJP was in power.

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