The Assam Assembly on Saturday witnessed ugly scenes with the Speaker adjourning the House twice after a BJP member made an “objectionable” remark against a Congress MLA.
When the situation did not improve and Congress MLA Sherman Ali Ahmed lay down on the floor of the House, Speaker Ranjeet Kumar Dass ordered the marshals to evict him along with his party colleague Abul Kalam Rasheed Alam.
The situation started turning ugly when BJP MLA Binanda Kumar Saikia raised the issue of encroachment of government land in his constituency Sipajhar.
Citing a Supreme Court judgment, he appealed the government to evict all “doubtful” encroachers from the area.
When Ahmed started talking against a blanket eviction, ruling party MLAs began shouting at him. BJP MLA Rama Kanta Dewri allegedly hurled ‘objectionable’ and ‘unparliamentary’ words at him.
The Speaker expunged all statements made after Saikia’s speech till resumption of the House after the second adjournment.
Ahmed and other Congress and AIUDF MLAs rushed to the Well of the House against the objectionable statement as well as the Speaker not allowing their objections to be recorded.
Ruling party MLAs also rushed to the Well and confronted the opposition MLAs, forcing the Speaker to adjourn the House for ten minutes.
Both sides continued to argue even after the adjournment and the Speaker left the House.
As soon as the House reassembled, Ahmed led the Congress and AIUDF MLAs again into the Well against the objectionable statement. This time too, ruling MLAs rann towards the Well to resist them.
BJP MLA Ashok Singhal came very close to Ahmed and shouted at him, which prompted the Speaker to ask the Chief Marshal to stand in between them.
Suddenly Ahmed lay down on the floor to the surprise of all, protesting against the objectionable word.
The Speaker then asked the marshals to clear the floor by evicting him from the House along with Alam and again adjourned the session for ten minutes.
After the House reassembled, Dass asked the Leader of Opposition Debabrata Saikia to make a statement on Ahmed and Congress’ behalf.
“Only expunging the word is not the solution. We want action so that such incidents do not take place in future,” Saikia said.
Referring to the BJP MLA’s statement on encroachment, the senior Congress leader pointed out that half truth was more dangerous than full lie.
AIUDF MLA Aminul Islam regretted the incident and said the ruling party MLAs do not hear anything against their statements and 50-60 persons shout together when a member from his party or Congress speaks.
On this, again dozens of BJP MLAs, including Pijush Hazarika, Mrinal Saikia, Ashok Singhal and Topon Kumar Gogoi, raised their voices against Islam.
“See, this is what I was saying. They do not listen to others at all. If the Assembly cannot run properly, how can Assam run smoothly? You should take action against the MLA who made the objectionable statement,” the AIUDF member said.
The Speaker then asked Parliamentary Affairs minister Chandra Mohan Patowary to reply to the query of BJP member Saikia.
“All encroachments will be evicted and all members of the House should be unanimous on this. There will be no consideration on encroachments,” Patowary said.
Addressing the media outside the House, Congress’ Ahmed said 1.3 lakh families have lost their homes due to erosion for many years across Assam and many of them were currently staying on government land.
“The SC judgement is not for blanket eviction. It has some exceptions like for erosion-affected families. In Sipajhar, the encroachers are mostly erosion-effected people,” he added.
The Speaker later told reporters in his chamber that most of the ruling MLAs were new and there was no training or briefing on Assembly functioning.
“That is probably the reason why they are aggressive or over-enthusiast,” Dass said on behaviour of BJP MLAs.