AAP MLA Sukhpal Singh Khaira was today suspended for the remainder of the Punjab Assembly’s budget session after he uploaded a video of unruly scenes between treasury benches and Akali legislators on Facebook. Speaker Rana Kanwarpal Singh handed over the matter to the Privilege Committee and ordered marshals to seize Khaira’s mobile phone. His suspension comes a day after Lok Insaaf Party MLA Simarjit Singh Bains was barred for the rest of the budget session after papers were hurled at the Chair. Last year, AAP MP Bhagwant Mann had stoked a controversy after he posted a video on social media of Parliament’s security pickets and internal security arrangements.
Later on talking to the media, Khaira accused the Speaker of being a “puppet” in the hands of the Congress and said he announced the “one-sided decision” without hearing him out. “I and my party will not be cowed down by such empty threats of the Speaker and the Congress government and vow to fight the burning issues of Punjab relentlessly,” he said. As the Question Hour began, Opposition Akali Dal and BJP members rushed to the Well of the House demanding waiver of farm debt and raising slogans against the Congress government for “not fulfilling” its the party’s poll promise.
A verbal spat ensued between cabinet minister Navjot Singh Sidhu and Akali members and the Speaker adjourned the House for half an hour after Congress and SAD legislators created ruckus. Akali and Congress MLAs nearly came to blows after the House was adjourned. Khaira recorded the unruly scenes and posted it on his Facebook account. “I wanted to show the drama of Akali Dal and Congress members,” said Khaira, adding they were “wasting” the House’s time and “not letting” the AAP raise “burning issues”.
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When the House reassembled, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Brahm Mohindra raised the video issue claiming that Khaira had “failed” to maintain the decorum by bringing a mobile inside the House and making and uploading a video on Facebook. He proposed immediate action against the AAP MLA and moved a Privilege Motion against him.
“I breached no privilege,” Khaira said, “Sidhu was talking on his phone when Mohindra proposed the Privilege Motion against me.”
The Speaker handed over the matter to the Privilege Committee and ordered Marshals to seize Khaira’s phone. “I name you (Khaira) and I name you. You have done such a thing in Vidhan Sabha which you are not allowed to do,” the Speaker announced. As per rules, a member who is named twice is suspended for the rest of the Session.
As AAP MLAs, led by Leader of the Opposition H S Phoolka, protested the decision, the Speaker adjourned the House for 10 minutes. When the Marshals came to take away Khaira’ mobile phones, AAP members strongly protested and Phoolka asked them to seize the mobile handset of Navjot Sidhu and other Congress members.
Khaira had earlier sought adjournment motion on sand mining mafia in the state. “By unilaterally suspending me for the remaining session, the Speaker has only exposed himself to be a convenient handtool of the Congress government. While suspending me under the directions of Amarinder Singh, the Speaker even forgot to give me a chance to give an explanation to counter the unfair suspension,” said Khaira. He said he posted the video on social media when the proceedings of the Vidhan Sabha were adjourned due to ruckus. He said it was not the first instance of a member shooting a video within the Vidhan Sabha.
“Only during the last session of the previous (SAD-BJP) government, the then Leader of Opposition and now Minister Charanjit Singh Channi shot a live video and posted it on social media. Similarly, Raja Warring, Sukhjinder Randhawa, Kuljit Nagra and others shot a live video while they spent night during a protest in the Vidhan Sabha recently which went viral on the Facebook,” said Khaira. Khaira demanded the proceedings of Punjab Vidhan Sabha be broadcast live on Doordarshan TV.