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Heavy metal in Punjab House
It was just a coincidence that Thursday was World Music Day, but Cong beats were not music to Speaker’s ears
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 21
Reacting to the clanging of steel plates with spoons in the house on the atta-dal issue by Congress MLAs, Speaker of the Punjab assembly Nirmal Singh Kahlon today reprimanded them. The Speaker had to adjourn the house for an hour immediately after the beginning of the clanging of plates during zero hour.

When the house reassembled after the adjournment, the Speaker poured his heart out.

Taking serious note of the bringing of steel plates and spoons into the house in a clandestine manner, Kahlon said he had powers to introduce the frisking of MLAs before their entry. However, such a measure was not taken keeping in view the status and dignity of MLAs, he added. There was pindrop silence in the house when the Speaker gave a dressing down to the Congress MLAs. Bringing any object into the house without the permission of the chair is an offence.

Expressing pain at what happened in the house, the Speaker said the house could not be treated as a “tamasha”. He said an attempt had been made to harm the dignity of the house by the MLAs concerned. He said these MLAs should introspect over what they had done today. The house had been created for serious discussion on issues related to people, highlighting their problems and for framing acts and taking decisions on their welfare. One could do whatever he or she wanted to outside the house, but no one could be allowed to breach decorum while inside the house, he added.

Had leader of the house Parkash Singh Badal not intervened at a crucial moment, all Congress MLAs would have been suspended from the house after zero hour for the remaining period of today’s sitting. In fact, a motion to suspend the Congress MLAs from the house was moved by minister of parliamentary affairs Tikshan Sud. However, he withdrew it at the instance of Badal.

However, before asking Sud to withdraw the motion, Badal had a dig at the Congress MLAs. “Tomorrow, someone will turn up in the house with sharp-edged weapons such as knives or with a revolver or a pistol”, he said and asked whether this could be allowed. “Let us forget and forgive what happened today”, said Badal. However, BJP minister Manoranjan Kalia insisted that the opposition MLAs should express regret over what they had done in the house.

Defending the action of her party MLAs in the house, Rajinder Kaur Bhattal said that it was her MLAs’ right to lodge their protest in the house. “We respect the house, but in a democracy it is the right of MLAs to protest”, she said. “We had asked for increasing the income limit from Rs 30,000 to Rs 60,000 for covering more people under the atta-dal scheme. But our voice was not heard”, she asserted.

Though Badal had made a statement that more names could be included in due course, the Congress MLAs, who had kept the plates and spoons concealed, did not pay attention to him and started clanging the plates.

This started immediately after the beginning of zero hour when leader of the opposition Bhattal got up to raise the issue of atrocities on Congress activists and seek the raising of the income limit for including more poor people in the atta-dal scheme. Badal said he was prepared for a discussion in the house on the allegation of “vendetta politics” levelled by the opposition. Regarding the atta-dal scheme, he said already about 33 per cent of the population of the state had been included in the list of beneficiaries under this scheme.

He said he was prepared to order a review of the lists of beneficiaries if the Congress agreed to the postponement of the scheme that was to be launched on August 15. However, the Congress insisted the scheme should be launched on August 15 but more names should be included. Badal said during the tenure of the Amarinder Singh government, the number of BPL families was below 5 lakh but the SAD-BJP government had enlisted about 12.50 lakh beneficiaries under the atta-dal scheme.

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