Updated: February 26, 2021 9:46:35 pm
Unruly scenes were witnessed on the first day of the budget session of the Himachal Pradesh Assembly here on Friday when protesting MLAs of the opposition Congress tried to stop Governor Bandaru Dattatraya from leaving the premises after he delivered his address in the House.
The agitating members blocked Dattatraya’s exit from the building and later his vehicle for around 10-15 minutes. Both the Congress and ruling BJP members later traded allegations of manhandling and assault during the commotion.
The BJP-led Assembly has suspended opposition leader Mukesh Agnihotri and four other Congress MLAs for the remainder of the budget session for allegedly disrupting the Governor’s address and blocking his cavalcade. Besides Agnihotri, those suspended from the session include Kullu MLA Sunder Singh Thakur, Una MLA Satpal Singh Raizada, Renukaji MLA Vinay Kumar and Shillai MLA Harshwardhan Chauhan.
The budget session is scheduled to last till March 20. It started on Friday with the Governor’s address, during which Congress MLAs started sloganeering to protest against rising prices of essential commodities and farmers’ issues. Agnihotri also objected when Dattatraya did not completely read out his written address tabled in the House. Dattatraya then left the House and the proceedings were adjourned till Monday.
A few minutes later, as Dattatraya was leaving the building, the Congress MLAs blocked the exit in protest. The Governor managed to step outside and reach his car, which was then blocked by the agitating MLAs.
The BJP members, including Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur and Speaker Vipin Singh Parmar, were also present at the spot and a commotion soon ensued with some of the BJP and Congress members pushing and shoving each other. The BJP members, along with some security personnel, eventually managed to clear the protesting MLAs from the vehicle’s path and Dattatraya’s cavalcade exited the premises.
The Opposition members then told mediapersons present at the spot that they were protesting against rise in prices of petrol, diesel, cooking gas and ration; issues related to farmers and over the fact that the Governor chose not to fully read out his address. They also called his address “a bundle of lies” and said that they wanted to confront him and speak about these issues when they tried to block his way.
Agnihotri and others alleged that they were pushed and shoved aside by the BJP members and security personnel when they blocked the Governor’s car.
Speaker Parmar reconvened the House to discuss the incident but members of the Congress and lone CPI(M) MLA Rakesh Singha remained absent. Parliamentary Affairs Minister Suresh Bhardwaj moved a resolution to suspend five of the Congress members. He said that the agitating MLAs insulted the Constitution by blocking the Governor’s way and also manhandled his aide-de-camp and others.
Chief Minister Thakur alleged that the Congress MLAs threw paper documents at the Governor and his staff. He added that under Rule 30 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in HP Legislative Assembly, any disruption in the Governor’s address amounts to contempt of the House. The BJP-led House then unanimously decided to suspend five of the Congress MLAs.
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