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Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Ruckus in Assam assembly after Congress’ plea for discussion on ‘land scam’ rejected

Leader of the Opposition Debabrata Saikia and other Congress MLAs served a notice for an adjournment motion to discuss alleged violation of laws while acquiring 29 bighas and 9 lecha (around 18 acres) of government land by RBS Realtors Pvt Ltd

Guwahati |
Updated: December 20, 2021 9:01:16 pm
Assam Pradesh Congress Committee (APCC) members stage a protest demanding resignation of Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma after reports emerged that a firm co-founded by his wife had acquired government land intended for use by landless persons and institutions, in Guwahati, Friday, Dec. 17, 2021. (PTI Photo)

The Winter Session of Assam assembly began with chaotic scenes on Monday after the Speaker rejected an adjournment motion moved by the Congress to discuss the alleged land scam by a company co-founded by the wife of Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma.

The unruly scene inside the House forced Speaker Biswajit Daimary to adjourn the session for 10 minutes. Later, the entire opposition comprising the Congress, AIUDF, the CPI(M) and one Independent MLA staged a walkout as the matter was not allowed to be discussed.

Leader of the Opposition Debabrata Saikia and other Congress MLAs served a notice for an adjournment motion to discuss alleged violation of laws while acquiring 29 bighas and 9 lecha (around 18 acres) of government land by RBS Realtors Pvt Ltd.

Daimary initially said he received an adjournment motion on violation of land policies by a private company and the motion was disallowed. He did not mention what the notice was all about.

On this, Independent MLA Akhil Gogoi said, “Cannot we talk about the CM’s family’s land scandal?”

Reacting to Gogoi’s question, all the BJP members stood up and started shouting at him. The speaker said there was no need to take anyone’s name.

Justifying his stand to reject the motion, Daimary said, “I have not got any data on the topic. There are only some newspaper clippings.”

When Gogoi insisted on reading out the topic of the notice, he said that there was no need to read it out in the House.

Saikia then said that it would be wrong if the opposition party was not allowed to even talk on the admissibility of the notice. A decision to reject it can be pronounced thereafter.

Other senior Congress MLAs such as Bharat Chandra Narah and Kamalakhya Dey Purkayastha too questioned the Speaker for not reading out the notice.

“The rule allows the Speaker to decide on the admissibility of a notice. I have checked it and found that it is not admissible,” Daimary said.

Gogoi then again raised the issue, mentioning the alleged land scam by the wife of the chief minister. The BJP members too reacted sharply to this, leading to adjournment of the House for 10 minutes.

When the House reassembled, Saikia raised the topic again and urged the Speaker to discuss the matter.

When Daimary stuck to his point over dismissal of the notice without mentioning the topic, the opposition stood and shouted against the alleged scam.

Finally, the Speaker allowed Saikia to talk on the admissibility of the notice related to grabbing of government land.

The senior Congress leader then read out the entire notice and said that the matter is of recent development, was not discussed earlier, public interest related, not sub-judice, related to the state government and involves corruption.

Saikia also said that “the minister’s role is also under question” in the entire development and demanded an Assembly resolution to initiate a probe by a sitting judge and return the occupied land to the actual beneficiaries.

“When we have scores of erosion hit landless families, one private commercial company has grabbed government land meant for the poor. It needs to be investigated properly,” he added.

Giving the government’s version, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pijush Hazarika said the alleged irregularities took place between 2006 and 2009, which is not a recent period. So, it should be rejected.

Saikia said it was exposed by the media recently, so it should be discussed. Gogoi displayed a local vernacular daily and claimed that it appeared on Monday’s edition also. Both Saikia and Gogoi said it is a matter of public interest and urgency.

“There is no issue in discussing it, but not adjourning other works. You may bring it through other devices. I don’t see a situation to adjourn all businesses and discuss it,” Daimary said.

On this, the Congress, AIUDF, CPI(M) and the Independent MLAs staged a walkout from the House for the day.

The chief minister was not present at the House.

Earlier, another adjournment motion by the AIUDF to discuss an agriculture project at Gorukhuti in Darrang district, where two people were killed in police firing during an eviction drive in September, was rejected as the matter is sub-judice.

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