The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) vied with each other in the state assembly on Wednesday to corner the Capt Amarinder Singh-led Congress government.
The two parties, which are jockeying to dominate the opposition space ahead of next year’s assembly polls, went after the state government from the word go, targeting it over the delay in post-matric scholarships for SC students, irregularities in Mohali land auction, and, last but not least, Uttar Pradesh gangster-turned-politician Mukhtar Ansari’s custody.
The SAD and AAP legislators then staged walkouts from the House in quick succession over the delay in the implementation of pay commission and release of dearness allowance instalments, and scrapping of power purchase agreements (PPAS) with private power plants, respectively.
As soon as the question hour got over, leader of opposition (LOP) Harpal Singh Cheema, SAD legislator Bikram Singh Majithia and several other MLAs of the two opposition parties were up on their feet to draw speaker Rana KP Singh’s attention for time to speak during the zero hour.
The speaker allowed Cheema first, and he began by blaming the Congress government for the suffering of lakhs of students due to the failure of the state government to release funds under the scholarship scheme. Citing a reply he received from the Union government under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, the LOP accused the government of diverting the scheme funds and not submitting the utilisation certificates to the central ministry.
Majithia, who was the next to speak, tore into the Congress government over custody of Ansari, who is facing trial in UP in several criminal cases. Accusing the Punjab government of shamelessly shielding the gangster-turned-politician, the Akali leader demanded a CBI inquiry. He said when the state government did not have the money to implement the pay commission and release dearness and other allowances of its employees, it was wasting money. However, his remarks on efforts being made by the state government in the court in this matter were expunged by the speaker.
A Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) MLA from Mau, Ansari, is wanted in UP for trial in 14 cases on charges of murder, extortion, etc. He is lodged since January 2019 in a jail in Punjab where he was named in an extortion case by a builder.
Then, the SAD members asked for a discussion on the 6th State Pay Commission and the state government’s reluctance to give Punjab scales to its employees, but were not given time. The members responded by entering the well of the House, raising slogans against the state government. They continued raising slogans for six minutes before staging the walkout. Within minutes, slogan-shouting legislators of the AAP were also in the well of the House to protest against the high power rates in Punjab, repeated tariff hikes and the delay in scraping of power purchase agreements with private power plants. The party MLAs had also marched from the MLA Hostel to the state assembly in the morning to register their protest.