M A I N   N E W S

Free-for-all in Punjab House
Discussion on law and order brings lawlessness in Assembly
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 8
Fifteen minutes of uproar and ugly scenes converted the well of Punjab Vidhan Sabha into a combat zone where members of both the treasury and Opposition benches not only had a free-for-all turban-tossing session but also left the decorum of the House shredded to bits.

Three members of the House had their turbans tossed while another ended with a bleeding nose after the worst acrimony witnessed in recent years.

It was for the first time since 1997 that such an unsavoury situation had arisen in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha. Intriguingly, everyone including Speaker Nirmal Singh Kahlon, Leader of the House Parkash Singh Badal, and Leader of the Opposition Rajinder Kaur Bhattal condemned the developments. Both the treasury benches and the Opposition were at pains to blame each other.

Speaker Kahlon, who allowed Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal to continue with his statement on the Ludhiana incidents while Congress legislators stormed into the well, attempted to break the security cordon to get into Speaker’s podium, and shouted slogans against the government to protest against rejection of their adjournment motion, adjourned the House only after both ruling party and Opposition members virtually clashed with each other. By that time Sukhbir Badal had finished reading his two-page statement.

Though it was obvious that the Congressmen wanted to bring the government on the mat for the last weekend’s violence in Ludhiana, the treasury benches planned to pre-empt them with a matter-of-fact statement on the incidents by Home Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, who is also the Deputy Chief Minister.

After yesterday’s Business Advisory Committee meeting from where Congress nominees - Sukhpal Singh Khaira and Randeep Singh - had staged a walkout, agenda circulated last evening for the sitting today had mentioned that after the question hour, the Deputy Chief Minister will make a statement regarding the law and order situation in the state.

There was neither any call-attention motions nor any zero hour today. Incidentally, it was the first business day of the House after the opening sitting yesterday was devoted to obituary references only.

Trouble started after the Speaker asked Sukhbir Badal to make his statement. Opposition benches protested as Rajinder Kaur Bhattal resented rejection of their adjournment motion on the Ludhiana incidents. While Congress MLAs rose from their seats, shouting slogans against the government, they headed for the Speaker’s podium where security reinforcements were requisitioned to prevent determined protesters from breaking the cordon.

The Speaker’s repeated pleas to Congress MLAs to return to their seats by promising them full time to discuss the law and order situation were rejected. Instead, they returned to the well and headed towards the treasury benches with an obvious intent of obstructing Sukhbir Badal from completing his statement.

This led to acrimonious scenes as many of the treasury bench members, including Virsa Singh Valtoha and several others, not only formed a cordon around the Badals but also entered the well. Abuses were hurled as both ruling and Opposition members grappled with each other for a couple of minutes during which turbans of some legislators were tossed up. While both Valtoha and Darshan Singh Brar (Congress) were lucky to get their tossed up turbans back on their heads, Kewal Singh Dhillon (Congress) was not that lucky. He lost his turban in the melee that followed. Jagdeep Singh Nakai (Shiromani Akali Dal) ended with a bleeding nose from a bruise he had during the scuffle.

As the developments took an unexpected turn, the Speaker adjourned the House for an hour. But this did not end unruly scenes. Some of the Congress MLAs, including Ripjeet Singh Brar, got onto the table of Assembly reporters and continued shouting slogans.

When the House re-assembled, Congress MLAs sat in dharna in the well of the House. When the Speaker put the minutes of the Business Advisory Committee to vote, a protesting Opposition resorted to slogan-shouting. Minutes were approved. Even Parliamentary Affairs Minister also placed on the table of the House some reports before the Speaker adjourned it till Thursday afternoon.



HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Letters | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |