Punjab Assembly: Speaker must go, says Sukhbir; AAP, SAD walk out

As the question hour began, SAD president Sukhbir Badal and AAP legislature party chief H S Phoolka demanded an apology from the Speaker and Chief Minister Amarinder Singh for “denigration” of Sikh values in the Assembly which they said had hurt the sentiments of Sikhs.

By: Express News Service | Chandigarh | Published:June 24, 2017 6:28 am
 Punjab Assembly, AAP, Sukhbir Singh Badal, Amarinder Singh Sukhbir Singh Badal.

A day after the mayhem in the Punjab Assembly when some AAP MLAs were injured while some others saw their turbans coming undone as they were evicted by marshals on the Speaker’s order, the stand-off between the ruling party and the Opposition continued on the last day of budget session on Friday, with SAD and AAP legislators walking out at the beginning of the question hour and the House later passing a resolution condemning the behaviour of former Deputy CM Sukhbir Singh Badal and the Opposition and handing over the issue to the privilege committee.

As the question hour began, SAD president Sukhbir Badal and AAP legislature party chief H S Phoolka demanded an apology from the Speaker and Chief Minister Amarinder Singh for “denigration” of Sikh values in the Assembly which they said had hurt the sentiments of Sikhs.

As a mark of protest, SAD legislators were wearing black robes.

Speaker Rana K P Singh told the opposition MLAs not to lodge a protest as question hour was on, but the former continued with the protest and walked out of the Assembly.

Later, AAP held a mock session just outside the Assembly hall. The stage set up for mock session had placards condemning the Congress government for “trampling the turban under feet”. Other placards targeted the Congress government for taking over alleged business mafia control from Akalis.

Speaking during the mock session, AAP leaders also hit out at previous rule of SAD-BJP government. “Akali Dal supported us on the issue of turban, but this does not mean we are warming up to them. We continue to criticise what they did during their rule,” Phoolka said on the sidelines of mock session.

The SAD, which has sought removal of Speaker, met Punjab Governor V P Singh Badnore in the evening to seek his intervention.

Talking to reporters after the walkout, Sukhbir Badal said Amarinder and Rana KP Singh should apologise from Sikhs. “I have not seen such role of Speaker where Custodian of the house resorts to goondagardi,” he said, adding that the CM should remove the Speaker.

Meanwhile, the Assembly on Friday passed a resolution condemning the behaviour of Sukhbir Badal and the Opposition and unanimously decided to hand over the issue to Privilege Committee of the house.

The resolution was moved by Health and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Brahm Mohindra, who said “the opposition, caring scantily about the sanctity of the house, disrupted the question hour, misbehaved with the Speaker, crossed the floor of the house, threw paper missiles at the Speaker. The Speaker tried to control the situation, adjourned the house thrice on Thursday. Sukhbir Badal levelled personal allegations against the Speaker and called him a dictator, which amounted to insulting the chair.”

The resolution was passed by the treasury benches in the absence of opposition.

The Congress, which had issued a whip to party legislators, found about 70 of its total 77 MLAs present in the House. The prominent among the absentees was the Chief Minister himself. Mohindra told The Indian Express that no action was taken against the absentees as they had cited genuine reasons for their absence. “The CM is unwell. He is suffering from flu,” he said.

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