The Punjab Assembly witnessed high drama on the third day of the budget session on Friday as Congress and Shiromani Akali Dal legislators nearly came to blows after a heated exchange. A few MLAs from both sides were also seen pushing each other.
Akali MLAs were raising slogans, demanding a loan waiver for farmers. They intensified the heir sloganeering and targeted Congress minister Navjot Singh Sidhu who stood up to respond to a question on the Harike wetland project.
A furious Sidhu returned the fire by attacking the Badals over promoting their transport business due to which, he said, the state roadways took a hit and suffered losses worth crores of rupees. Several Congress MLAs entered the well of the House where they nearly clashed with the Akalis.
AAP MLA Sukhpal Singh Khaira added another dimension to the drama as he beamed the face-off live on Facebook for 4 minutes and 34 seconds. Vidhan Sabha Speaker Rana K P Singh adjourned the House for half an hour. Congress and Akali leaders continued to trade barbs, with the Akalis sitting on the floor of the well as Khaira played the stand-off live on Facebook.
After the session resumed and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Brahm Mohindra proposed a privilege motion against Khaira and immediate action against him for “uploading the video on Facebook”, the Speaker suspended Khaira for the remainder of the budget session.
“The Akalis and the Congress have reduced the Punjab Vidhan Sabha to an institution even worse than a normal, common rural panchayat… I want to show you a scene of that live… AAP members are sitting on benches…,” Khaira commented in the video as he moved the phone camera to the arguing Congress and Akali members to the sitting AAP members.
The Speaker said Kaira’s matter would be referred to a privilege committee. He also ordered Marshals to take into possession Khaira’s mobile phone, but Marshals could not do so as AAP leaders protested the move.
The session was again adjourned for 10 minutes.
An angry CM Amarinder Singh stood up and said it was unfortunate the Akalis were causing disruption. “I feel ashamed I am the leader of the House when there is this hooliganism.”