The monsoon session of the Haryana Assembly ended in 2 hours and 48 minutes Wednesday amid a boycott by the Congress which claimed it was not given time to raise the “burning issues” concerning the people of the state.
While key bills including 75 per cent reservation for state youths in private jobs, and sarpanch seats by rotation for men and women were not tabled, 12 other bills were passed by the Assembly that was supposed to meet for a two-day session.
The Business Advisory Committee (BAC), earlier in the day, decided to curtail the session keeping in view the Covid-19 pandemic. At least eight BJP legislators, including Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, Speaker Gian Chand Gupta and ministers Mool Chand Sharma and JP Dalal have been infected by the virus. Several employees of the Vidhan Sabha too have tested positive.
Sources in the government said there was a feeling that bills on important issues should be tabled only in the presence of the CM and the Speaker as being the senior partner in the alliance government, the BJP would like to take credit for the initiatives. JJP leader and Deputy Chief Minister Dushyant Chautala, who played the role of the Leader of the House in the absence of Khattar, have been raising the issue of 75 quota for Haryana residents in private jobs and 50-50 quota for men and women in panchayat bodies very prominently. The job quota for Haryana residents was also a poll promise of the JJP ahead of Assembly elections. Dushyant on Tuesday too had claimed that both the bills would be tabled in the House during the monsoon session.
The House, meanwhile, cleared 12 other bills even as following the demand of Leader of Opposition Bhupinder Singh Hooda and other Congress MLAs, the Punjab Village Common Lands (Regulation) Haryana Amendment Bill, 2020 was deferred for discussion during next session.
Some Congress MLAs and lone Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) legislator Abhay Singh Chautala also protested over the short duration of the session.
Addressing a press conference later, Hooda said his party legislators were not given time to raise the “burning issues” concerning the people of the state. “We had given Calling Attention notices on various issues and we wanted to bring adjournment motions on some vital issues but we were given no time to raise these issues,” he said.
He said the Congress wanted a concrete assurance from the government that it will get “various scams, including liquor, paddy, mining, land registries scam, probed either by the CBI or a sitting high court judge… but they remained silent on this because they know they have things to hide”.
Hooda said the government, during the BAC meeting, had assured him that only important legislative business would be conducted on Wednesday. Despite this, an “attempt was made to put up unimportant bills, which could have been deferred,” he claimed.
Before entering the Assembly, some Congress MLAs, including Varun Chaudhary and Amit Sihag, held a symbolic protest against “widespread corruption” in the state and wore face masks which read “Against Corruption in Covid”. However, they wore regular masks inside the House.
Hours before the proceedings of the House began, Chaudhary wrote to acting Speaker Ranbir Gangwa demanding a longer session. He said many states have a high Covid-19 caseload but their assembly sessions were several days long.
Health Minister Anil Vij, however, said the duration of the session was decided by the BAC. Pointing towards Congress MLAs, Vij said, “Either you announce in the House that you don’t treat Hooda as your leader or abide by what has been agreed to because he was present at the BAC meeting.”
Speaking in the House, INLD’s Chautala said the BJP-JJP government has been hit by scams. “I had given 12 Calling Attention notices on various issues, but only two were admitted and the acting Speaker said the replies had been put on the floor of the House and no discussion took place. There was no Question Hour and Zero Hour,” said Chautala, who also walked out from the House in protest.
Earlier, Gangwa told the House that the session has been curtailed and assured the opposition members that House would not be adjourned sine die and “would be treated in continuity” and convened as soon as the situation improves. They could take up issues in the next meeting, he said.
However, Chautala remained adamant. “What is the problem in holding the discussion when everyone sitting in the House has tested negative for Covid-19? Who is dying here? We have come to attend the session from 300 miles away. If things are not to be discussed, why did you call us?”
Gangwa told him that the House has to meet at least once in six months to meet the constitutional requirement.
When the Bills were being tabled in the House, Independent MLA Balraj Kundu raised the issue of three farm ordinances passed by Centre. He demanded a law to ensure minimum support price for the crops. To this, Deputy CM said that the government would consider his suggestions but added that they have not yet received rules and regulations related to the three ordinances.
In the House, Education Minister Kanwar Pal Gujjar said that final year examination of graduation students could not be conducted on time due to Covid-19.
As per the guidelines of University Grants Commission, it is mandatory to conduct examinations for the final year of undergraduate and postgraduate classes. While replying to the objections raised by the members of the Opposition regarding examinations being conducted during Covid-19, Gujjar said that when a student works hard for 14 years to complete his graduation and does not get a proper degree, it is not appropriate. In view of this, the minister said, the Higher Education Department has decided to conduct online or offline examination of the students. He added that the department will ensure proper arrangements for this examination so that the rules applicable during Covid-19 are adhered to and the health of all concerned is taken care of.
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