The budget session of the Himachal Pradesh assembly got off to a stormy start in Shimla on Friday with belligerent opposition Congress legislators interrupting governor Bandaru Dattatreya’s address and surrounding him as he left the House, leading to the suspension of five MLAs for the entire session.
Speaker Vipin Parmar placed leader of opposition Mukesh Agnihotri and four other Congress members Harshwardhan Chauhan, Satpal Singh Raizada, Sunder Singh and Vinay Kumar under suspension for the session.
Trouble started soon after the governor began his address at 11am with Agnihotri interrupting to claim that Dattatreya had skipped a major portion of his speech and had chosen to stay mum on inflation, unemployment and other concerns of the state. This led to an argument between treasury and opposition benches. Parmar tried to pacify both sides but in vain. Amid the sloganeering, he adjourned the House till 1pm and announced that the governor’s speech should be considered read.
Scuffle between MLAs outside Vidhan Sabha, too
The acrimony continued outside the House with Congress MLAs raising slogans against the BJP government and blocking gate number one used by the Speaker. A scuffle ensued between the ruling and opposition members as they surrounded the governor’s car. Chief minister Jai Ram Thakur and Parmar were seen trying to ensure a safe exit for Dattatreya.
Later, Agnihotri said that the governor’s address was a “bundle of lies”. “There’s nothing in it. Not a word on inflation, unemployment and issues concerning the state. It’s for the first time that the state governor could not complete his address in the House and ran away,” he said. He claimed that Asha Kumari, the lone Congress woman legislator at the spot, was manhandled by ruling party members.
CM meets ministers, security staff before House called again
Chief minister Jai Ram Thakur met ministers and security personnel and for the first time in the state, the House was called again after being adjourned for the day.
The Speaker said that after adjournment, the House was summoned again under Rule 346. No one from the opposition was present.
Besides the chief minister, state parliamentary affairs minister Suresh Bhardwaj along with the Speaker described the incident as shameful. The treasury benches sought strict action against the opposition members who stopped the governor from leaving after his address. “The opposition members have attacked the Constitution. This is their tradition,” said Bhardwaj.
“This is a criminal act,” the chief minister said, moving a resolution under Rule 319 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Himachal Assembly, seeking the suspension of the five Congress members.