The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) today accused the Congress MLAs of having a “tacit understanding” with the Akali-BJP members in the Punjab Assembly, not to allow it to raise the issues of sand mafia, farmer suicides etc. in the ongoing Budget Session of the House. With their most vocal speakers — Sukhpal Khaira and ally Lok Insaaf Party’s Simarjit Singh Bains — being suspended for the rest of the session by the Speaker, AAP asserted that it would frame a strategy to counter both the ruling Congress and the Akali-BJP members, saying its first-time MLAs would “effectively raise” their voice in the House. “There is a tacit understanding between the Congress and the Akali-BJP MLAs in the House. They do not want us to raise the burning issues such as the sand mafia and rising number of farmer suicides in the state,” Leader of Opposition in the Assembly H S Phoolka told PTI.
“The Congress government knows that if we are allowed to raise these issues, they will be embarrassed,” he added.
AAP had demanded an adjournment motion on the sand-mining auction, accusing state minister Rana Gurjit Singh of “indulging in impropriety” in the contracts. It was denied by Speaker Rana Kanwarpal Singh on the second day of the session. The Speaker had then suspended the AAP MLAs for the day and Bains for the rest of the session for throwing a bundle of papers at the Chair. The SAD-BJP members had disrupted the proceedings of the House on the second and third day by storming into the Well, demanding a debate on farm loan waiver.
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“It has never happened in the Assembly that the Question Hour proceedings were disrupted by the members. The SAD-BJP members were simply wasting the time of the House in order to prevent us from speaking up,” said AAP MLA Aman Arora. Claiming that the government had gone “defensive” on the issues of farmer suicide and sand mining, he said, “Thus, the Akalis disrupting the proceedings of the House suits the members of the ruling party.” Firebrand AAP leader Khaira, who wanted to raise the issue of sand mining, was suspended on the third day for the rest of the session, after he made a live video of the unruly scenes in the House and uploaded it on his Facebook page.
He had subsequently accused the Speaker of being a “puppet in the hands of the Congress”. “We will frame a strategy as regards how to raise our voice effectively in the House. Our first-time MLAs will lead the charge and take on the ruling party members,” said Phoolka, when asked how the main opposition party would raise the issues in the absence of Khaira and Bains. Meanwhile, Arora today wrote to Chief Minister Amarinder Singh demanding that the names of the SAD-BJP leaders, who got the sand mining contracts, be made public.
“Your failure to do so will be enough to prove to the people of the state that the Congress and the SAD-BJP have a tacit understanding between them when it comes to serving their own interests at the cost of the state, and your government is undermining the democratic rights of the people which envisage a complete transparency from the elected government,” he wrote to the chief minister. On the third day of the session on June 16, the SAD-BJP MLAs who were disrupting the House proceedings by storming into the Well and raising anti-government slogans, had gone back to their seats after Singh had “warned” of revealing the names of those who had got the sand mining contracts.