SLOGAN SHOUTING and a walkout by the Aam Aadmi Party-Lok Insaaf Party alliance marked the election of Rana KP Singh, Congress MLA from Anandpur Sahib, as Speaker of the Punjab Assembly. The AAP MLAs staged a walkout immediately after the voice vote took place to elect the Speaker, accusing him of denying the opposition a chance to voice their concerns during the discussion on the Governor’s address.
Even as the process of electing the Speaker was yet to commence and Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh moved a motion to elect Rana KP Singh as Speaker, leader of opposition HS Phoolka pointed out that it was incorrect not to hold a discussion after the Governor’s address as it was against the provisions of the Constitution. Referring to the Business Advisory Committee’s recommendation that the discussion on the address be postponed, Phoolka said the committee could not go against the Constitution.
“I objected in the committee meeting, too. A 2002 precedent has been cited. We should not follow a wrong precedent,” Phoolka said. Immediately after he sat down, the AAP chief whip, Sukhpal Singh Khaira, got up and said that it was unfortunate that the new Assembly was beginning on such a note. He asked for at least half a day to flag some important issues upon which Parliamentary Affairs Minister Brahm Mohindra interjected and said that half a day would not be enough for a discussion.
Khaira said there was a need to hold discussion on the issue of drugs, corruption and the large number of Officers on Special Duty (OSD) appointed by the chief minister soon after forming government. Simarjit Singh Bains of LIP also supported the AAP demand to hold discussion on the Governor’s address. “These (Congress) are the very people, who sat on a dharna overnight in the House accusing the then government of not letting them raise issues in this House and today the situation has changed,” said Bains. The Speaker said the government must be given some time befor a discussion could be held.
Local Bodies Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu intervened several times during the protest by AAP and LIP even as the Speaker asked him to sit down. “We are not denying a debate but first let the government get working,” said Sidhu even as Mohindra tried to get him to sit down. Sidhu also tried to get into a one-to-one exchange with Khaira but the AAP benches walked out at that point of time. As they trooped out of the House shouting anti-government slogans, Sidhu once again got up and rallied the treasury benches to raise counter slogans.
Earlier, the Chief Minister, senior Akali MLA Ajit Singh Kohar and BJP MLA and former Deputy Speaker, Dinesh Singh Babbu, went up to the Speaker’s chair and congratulated Rana KP Singh on his election. The CM also read out a brief profile of the Speaker’s political and professional career and said that given his calm and composed nature, he was ideally suited to run the House efficiently.
Speaking on the occasion, Rana KP Singh, a law graduate from Dehradun University, said he was honoured to have been given the august post by the House and said that he would try to fulfil his responsibilities with all dedication at his command.
Badals take oath
The father-son duo of former CM Parkash Singh Badal and deputy CM Sukhbir Singh Badal took oath as MLAs in the Speaker’s chamber on Monday instead of taking oath in the House. This was the second consecutive day of the session in which they did not participate having missed the inaugural day also. Akali MLA Ajit Singh Kohar briefly mentioned in the House that Badal could not attend the session as he was unwell.