The Punjab Vidhan Sabha Thursday witnessed a new low as Congress and SAD legislators exchanged abuses and almost came to blows after Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi made certain remarks about former minister and Akali leader Bikram Singh Majithia. The face-off ultimately resulted in Speaker Rana KP Singh naming all the Akali MLAs and asking them to leave the House.
The ruckus erupted at the fag end of the discussion on a resolution moved by the Congress rejecting the three central agri laws and asking the state government not to implement them.
During the course of his address, just before the resolution was to be passed, Channi launched an aggressive attack on Majithia and alluded to certain allegations, which had been levelled against the Akali leader in the past. He also made certain personal remarks against Majithia.
The Akali Dal leaders, who had been at the receiving end of Channi’s barbs in the earlier part of the session, erupted at the remarks. Majithia, Pawan Kumar Tinu, NK Sharma and other legislators could be seen angrily pointing towards Channi and the other Congress MLAs. Some Congress MLAs, including Cabinet Minister Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa, were seen trying to pacify the Akalis. Congress member Kulbir Singh Zira was seen making aggressive gestures.
The agitated Akali MLAs rushed into the well of the House and gathered near the seat of the Chief Minister making threatening gestures even as Congress members rushed to defend him. At one point, it seemed as if the two sides would exchange blows even as state Congress president Navjot Singh Sidhu rushed to CM’s aid and was heard shouting at Majithia.
Majithia, meanwhile, continued to attack the CM while standing in the well of the House and making reference to some allegations which had been made in the past against Channi when he was a minister. This further agitated the Congress members who could be seen shouting back at Majithia.
While the Speaker expunged the words of the CM — a rare instance when it comes to the leader of the House — the Akalis were not pacified and continued to protest. Since the proceedings were being telecast live on social media platforms, the words used by Channi against Majithia soon went viral.
With there being no let up in the ruckus, the Speaker thrice adjourned the House for a total of 35 minutes — twice for 10 minutes and later for 15 minutes. The Speaker also invited the Akali members to his chamber to break the logjam.
After meeting the Speaker, Pawan Kumar Tinu, the Akali MLA from Jalandhar, said, “We do not come to the Vidhan Sabha to get humiliated or abused. It does not behove the CM to use the words that he did. He should apologise”.
Soon enough Kulbir Singh Zira entered into a verbal duel with Tinu and both could be heard using abrasive language against each other and gesticulating wildly. This again led to a commotion near the CM’s seat with MLAs on both sides intervening.
Zira was ultimately dragged away by Deputy Chief Minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa.
Leader of Opposition, Harpal Singh Cheema from AAP also intervened in the debate and criticised the CM for the language he said against Majithia. “A person holding the office of the CM should not use such words,” he said.
Earlier, during his speech, Channi said, Akalis had brought the Anandpur Sahib resolution. “They think only politically. When they are out of power, they get reminded of Chandigarh and rights of Punjab. They try to provoke people of the state. They brought terrorism to Punjab and destroyed the economy of the state,” Channi said.
Attacking former CM Parkash Singh Badal, who was not present in the House, Channi said, “He destroyed Punjab. Sukhbir Singh Badal appreciated the Union government when it abrogated Article 370 ending the special status of Jammu and Kashmir. He did not vote against the move in the Parliament. I got this information through RTI. BJP thought they could do whatever they want with Punjab because the Akali Dal was with them and Sikhs are with them (Akalis). You were with them to let BJP and RSS capture Punjab. SAD is a gaddar (traitor) party of Punjab”.
Stating that his meeting with Union Home Minister Amit Shah had nothing to do with Centre extending the BSFs jurisdiction in the state, Channi said, “These people (SAD) destroyed youth of Punjab with drugs. You want Punjab should be awash with drugs”.
The CM added that the Akalis have now joined hands with the BSP just to come to power in Punjab even though it had rejected the party when BJP came to power at Centre.