Punjab Assembly today witnessed noisy scenes after SAD-BJP and AAP MLAs created a ruckus over farm debt waiver and sand mining issues, forcing adjournment of the House twice. Following a huge uproar, the Speaker suspended all the members of AAP for the day. Simarjit Singh Bains of Lok Insaaf Party (LIP) was suspended for rest of the budget session after he hurled papers at the Chair along with some members. Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh strongly condemned the opposition for disrupting the proceedings during the second day of the budget session of Punjab Vidhan Sabha. As the session commenced, Akalis and BJP members stood up and demanded a discussion on loan waiver for farmers before taking up questions from the members of the House.
“You are wasting the time of question hour,” Speaker Rana Kanwarpal Singh told SAD and BJP MLAs as they moved into the Well of the House. SAD-BJP members said their adjournment motion on debt waiver be allowed to which the Speaker said he did not receive their motion in time. The leader of opposition and AAP MLA H S Phoolka also sought a debate on the farm debt waiver. Akalis and BJP members led by former minister Ajit Singh Kohar raised slogans against the state government for not fulfilling the poll promise of debt waiver. “Waive farmers’ debt,” they demanded. As the Speaker failed to convince protesting MLAs of SAD, the cabinet minister Navjot Singh Sidhu took potshots at protesting members, saying people forced them to bite the dust during the polls.
He also took a swipe at the absence of SAD President Sukhbir Singh Badal and his brother-in-law Bikram Singh Majithia. The Speaker had to adjourn the House for half-a-hour, barely 15 minutes after the Question Hour. Punjab Parliamentary affairs minister Brahm Mohindra described the behaviour of SAD and BJP as undemocratic and accused them of violating the sanctity of the Question Hour. Amid the ruckus, 15 MLAs of Akali and BJP staged a walkout. Earlier, the House paid tributes to Punjabi writer Ajmer Singh Aulakh who passed away in Mansa today. During the Zero Hour, Akali MLA and former transport minister Ajit Singh Kohar accused Navjot Singh Sidhu of using abusive words against them during Question. Akali and BJP MLAs rushed to the Well of the House, squatted there and raised slogans against Sidhu.
However, the Speaker expunged a single line remark uttered by Sidhu against Akalis and BJP. As the House saw a heated exchange of words between treasury benches and Akalis, the Speaker again adjourned the House for half-an-hour. “Akalis were being abused by the whole Punjab on social media. They do not have any answer for their misdeeds and that is why they are resorting to such tactics,” Sidhu told media later. As the members of the House assembled again, the leader of the opposition and AAP MLA H S Phoolka sought from the Speaker to allow MLA Sukhpal Khaira to speak over sand mining issue. Phoolka said the adjournment motion was filed on sand mining issue as the prices of sand and gravel shot up astronomically because of “sand mafia” in the state.
When Speaker refused the adjournment motion, all the AAP and LIP MLAs stormed into the well of the House and raised slogans against the government. However, the Speaker continued with the proceedings of the House amid the din.
The protesting members including Sukhpal Khaira, Aman Arora tried to break the human chain of House staff in an attempt to reach the Chair. Members including LIP MLA Simarjit Singh Bains threw bundles of papers towards the chair. The Speaker ‘named’ all the AAP and LIP MLAs and asked the watch and ward staff to remove them from the House. He ‘named’ LIP MLA Simarjit Singh Bains twice and suspended him for rest of the budget session.
As AAP and LIP MLAs continued with sloganeering, the Speaker adjourned the House for the day. CM Amarinder Singh strongly condemned the behaviour of both AAP and Akali-BJP for disrupting the proceedings, while talking to media later. “Shocked & disgusted at the behaviour of AAP MLAs in Vidhan Sabha, not seen such disrespect to Speaker in 50 yrs in politics, strongly condemn,” Amarinder tweeted.