Updated: March 2, 2021 3:00:14 am
The last Budget Session of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha before the upcoming Assembly elections early next year started on a stormy note Monday with opposition parties trooping into the Well of the House on the issue of three farm laws and raising slogans against Punjab Governor V P Singh Badnore throughout his address. The day also saw enough political action outside the Assembly with SAD chief Sukhbir Badal leading his party’s protest march to gherao the Assembly. Sukhbir and other SAD leaders were detained as police was forced to use water cannons and resort to mild lathicharge to stop marching Akalis. AAP, meanwhile, staged a cycle rally to the Assembly and also burnt copies of Governor’s speech outside the House in protest. The eight-day long session began with Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) legislators protesting the moment Governor entered the Vidhan Sabha with slogans asking him to “go back”.
The protest was paused as the National Anthem played, but resumed the moment Governor started reading his address, listing an array of activities carried out by the ruling Congress government in the state.
The legislators of SAD, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and Lok Insaf Party (LIP) continued to raise slogans against the Governor throughout his nearly 19-minute address. The sloganeering by opposition parties continued even outside the Assembly when Governor was leaving the Vidhan Sabha premises amid tight layer of security.
As the Governor ended his speech, the copies of his address were torn by SAD MLAs. Opposition MLAs were miffed at the Governor for not sending three agri amendment Acts passed by Punjab Assembly for presidential assent. The amendment Acts by Punjab Assembly were aimed at circumventing in the state the implementation of three farm laws passed by the Centre, which the state farmers oppose and have been up in arms against for months now.
Amid the sloganeering against him, Governor while referring to the three amendment legislations said: “These legislations are pending for Presidential assent under Article 254 of the Constitution.”
LIP MLA Simarjeet Singh Bains, however, later said over the phone that the wording of the Governor’s address needed to be carefully looked into.
Bains said the “fact” was that legislations passed by Punjab Vidhan Sabha in October 2020 were still with the Governor and had not been forwarded for presidential assent.
SAD MLA Gurpartap Singh Wadala said, “The wording is very vague. It does not clarify whether the amendment legislations have been indeed forwarded for presidential assent or are still with the Governor.”
AAP MLA Aman Arora dubbed Governor’s address as “bundle of lies.”
Nearly 45 Congress legislators, including Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh and 11 Cabinet ministers were present when opposition parties lodged the protest. Former minister and Congress MLA from Amritsar (East) Navjot Singh Sidhu also attended the session.
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