M A I N   N E W S

Chatha elected Speaker
Azad Mohammed is Deputy
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 21
Mr Harmohinder Singh Chatha and Mr Azad Mohammed were today unanimously elected Speaker and Deputy Speaker, respectively, of the 12th Haryana Vidhan Sabha. Both belong to the ruling Congress.

Their names were proposed by the Parliamentary Affairs Minister, Mr Randeep Singh Surjewala, and seconded by the Excise and Taxation Minister, Mr Venod Sharma.

They were escorted to their respective chairs by the Chief Minister, Mr Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Mr Surjewala, Mr Sushil Kumar Indora, INLD MLA from Ellenabad; and Mr Ram Kumar Gautam, BJP MLA from Narnaund.

Mr Chatha, a Sikh, won from Pehowa. It will be his second tenure as Speaker. Earlier he presided over the House from 1987 to 1991 after he was elected from Naggal as an Independent. He is an advocate by profession.

Mr Azad Mohd was a member of the House from 1996 to 2000. He was elected on the INLD ticket from Ferozepur Jhirka but defected to the Haryana Vikas Party of Mr Bansi Lal, who made him a Minister. However, he was among the first Ministers who quit the Bansi Lal government and joined hands with the INLD when the Congress withdrew support from that government in July, 1999. He was denied the party ticket by the INLD. In the last elections, he won on the Congress ticket.

Various members, including Mr Hooda, Mr Birender Singh, Mr Phool Chand Mullana, Mr Indora, Mr Radhey Shyam Sharma(Ind), Mr Dharam Pal Malik, Ms Sharda Rathore, Ms Anita Yadav, Mr Lachhman Dass Arora, Mr Naresh Yadav(Ind), Mr Gautam and Mr Chhattar Pal Singh congratulated Mr Chatha and Mr Azad Mohd and said that they were expected to protect the rights of every member and conduct the proceedings of the House in a non-partisan manner.

Mr Hooda said though Mr Chatha had won on the Congress ticket, now he was no longer a party man, who would guard the interests of all members. He said there was no use going back in history. It was time to write a new history and rebuild institutions.

Earlier Mr Birender Singh had pointed out that during the past five years, the then ruling party had subverted democratic norms and the House was made redundant. There was no debate worth its name on Bills. He regretted that the House held on an average of 11 sittings per annum, which must be the lowest in the country.

Before the election of the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker, the acting Speaker, Dr Raghbir Singh Kadiyan, administered the oath to newly-elected members. Barring the former Chief Minister, Mr Om Prakash Chautala (INLD), who has been hospitalised, and the Congress MLA from Nilokheri, Mr Jai Singh Rana, all other members in the 90-member House took the oath.

Mr Chatha took the oath in Punjabi.

The first to take the oath was the Deputy Chief Minister, Mr Chander Mohan. The Chief Minister did not take the oath because Mr Hooda is still not a member of the House. Mr Hooda, who is the MP from Rohtak, will have to become an MLA within six months. The Congress legislator from Badhra, Mr Dharamvir, has offered to quit his seat for Mr Hooda.

After Mr Chander Mohan, all ministers were administered the oath, followed by women members, numbering 11, the maximum since the formation of the state in 1966.

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