The principal opposition party in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), is gearing up to make the most of the one-day Assembly session that has been called by the Amarinder Singh government on August 28, expecting that the infighting and dissent within the Congress will be visible on the floor of the House.
AAP leaders will soon be holding a meeting of the legislative group of the party comprising all MLAs wherein the floor strategy for the day-long Assembly session will be chalked out.
With a host of issues which have to be raised in the House, party insiders say that the recent illicit liquor tragedy has caused deep fissures within the Congress ranks and it is inevitable that some MLAs from treasury benches will hold their own government accountable.
A senior AAP leader told The Indian Express that they were picking signals from Congress ranks that the ruling party MLAs were dissatisfied on a host of issues, including the short session called as they wanted to raise many issues pertaining to their respective constituencies.
“It is our belief that we will be successful in cornering the government in the House and will be aided by the members of the treasury benches in this effort,” a senior leader said.
The Leader of Opposition, Harpal Singh Cheema, said that it was evident that the Congress government feared a backlash from within its own ranks of MLAs which is why a short session has been called.
“There have been indications that the Congress does not want all its MLAs to attend this session. They want to keep away 20-odd MLAs of theirs to ensure that the session is not marred by their infighting. However, we are not concerned about their own dissension. The matters concerning the state’s well-being are serious enough for us to raise and we will do this vociferously, the short duration of the session notwithstanding,” Cheema said.
The senior AAP leader and MLA from Sunam, Aman Arora, said that it was obvious that the Congress was facing opposition from within but added that it was tough to expect too much to happen in a session which may last just a couple of hours.
“They are just fulfilling their constitutional obligation by calling this session. If you analyse the session’s trajectory then there will be a obituary reference and adjournment motion for sometime followed by a question hour. Only 20-odd questions are expected to be listed in that and how many get actually asked is anyone’s guess. Thereafter, three call attention motions and some government Bills will be brought,” Arora said.
In addition to the issue of poor handing of COVID crisis, sale of illicit liquor, CBI inquiry ordered by the Punjab and Haryana High Court into ‘goonda tax’ being charged from trucks carrying sand from illegal mining in Ropar, the AAP has also zeroed in on the issue of SYL canal to be raised in the Assembly.
The AAP has has accused Chief Minister Amarinder Singh of indulging in “provocative and misleading” statements on the issue of Sutlej Yamuna Link (SYL) canal.
Arora said that after the meeting of Punjab and Haryana Chief Ministers with Union Minister on the issue of SYL Tuesday, Amarinder chose to indulge in making inflammatory statements like “Punjab will burn”, instead of taking a clear stand on the issue of the state’s water share on the basis of riparian law.
Arora alleged that the root cause of SYL were the Congress and Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) governments, which had not taken a clear stand as per the prevailing riparian law from the very beginning.
Disagreeing with the Chief Minister’s demand to set up a new tribunal for fresh assessment of the river waters of Punjab, Arora said the government in the saddle needed to understand in the first place that only under the riparian law, the interests of Punjab could be protected and the open ‘loot’ of its waters stopped, adding that it (the govt) should make its stand clear on the issue and fight for it instead of “pedalling lies” over the sensitive issue.
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