THE GUJARAT Assembly witnessed violence on Wednesday as BJP and Congress members exchanged blows, following which two Congress MLAs — Pratap Dudhat (Savarkundla) and Amrish Der (Rajula) — were suspended for three years and another — Baldevji Thakor (Kalol) — for a year.
The suspension of Dudhat and Der — both first-time MLAs from Amreli — triggered protests in their district in the evening.
The proceedings in the House took a violent turn after Question Hour, when Congress MLA from Khambhalia, Vikram Maadam, sought to speak on the deaths of two children at Asaram’s ashram in Ahmedabad. When Maadam was not allowed to speak, Der stood up in his support and asked Speaker Rajendra Trivedi to let him speak.
On being denied permission, Der and Maadam started walking towards the well of the House. The Speaker first warned them to return to their respective seats, and then suspended them from the House.
As both Congress and BJP members started shouting, Dudhat rushed to the front while exchanging heated words with BJP MLA Jagdish Panchal. He snatched a mike and tried to hit Panchal with it. The Speaker immediately announced Dudhat’s suspension.
The House was then adjourned for 10 minutes. Maadam and Der were escorted out by marshals, but Der re-entered the House through another gate and struck Panchal. BJP MLAs immediately surrounded Der and started beating him up, and he fell on the floor. Der was later escorted out of the House.
The ruckus then shifted to outside the House, as BJP leaders alleged that Baldevji Thakor tried to hit BJP MLA from Majura, Harsh Sanghvi, and threatened him.
When the House reconvened at around 3.55 pm, Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel moved a proposal to suspend Dudhat and Der for three years and Thakor for one year. “Today is a blot in the history of the Gujarat Assembly,” he said. His proposal was supported by senior minister Bhupendrasinh Chudasama.
Congress Deputy Leader in the House Shailesh Parmar said, “I am not trying to save Pratapbhai Dudhat. But we have to consider why he attacked only Jagdish Panchal.” Parmar alleged that Panchal had used abusive words, which angered Dudhat. He said the Speaker should also suspend BJP MLAs Panchal and Sanghvi also.
“The Speaker can check the recording of the House proceedings. If I am found making any abusive comment, I will resign from the Assembly. I had only asked him (Dudhat) to sit down,” responded Panchal.
Sanghvi said he ran towards the Opposition benches to save his fellow BJP MLAs and to stop the situation from worsening.
Rejecting the Opposition’s arguments, Speaker Trivedi put the motion to vote. It was passed by a majority vote, following which Congress members staged a walkout.
The Congress MLAs later met in the chamber of Leader of Opposition Paresh Dhanani for nearly an hour. “For the past six-seven days, our MLAs were complaining to me that they were being provoked by BJP MLAs like Jagdish Panchal and others who were using abusive language. They even complained that BJP MLAs were threatening them, saying they would meet Haren Pandya’s fate,” Dhanani told mediapersons.
“This was part of the BJP’s conspiracy to get the entire Opposition suspended just before the Rajya Sabha elections (on March 23). However, we will not allow them to succeed,” he said.