M A I N   N E W S

Punjab Assembly standoff continues
Cong ‘battles’ outside House; mediator Madan Mohan Mittal jostled, falls
Tribune News Service

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Madan Mohan Mittal falls down in a melee at the Congress dharna in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha complex, Chandigarh, on Thursday.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Madan Mohan Mittal falls down in a melee at the Congress dharna in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha complex, Chandigarh, on Thursday. Tribune photo: Manoj Mahajan

Chandigarh, December 20
An attempt by the SAD-BJP government to end the standoff with the Opposition Congress in the Punjab Assembly failed today. Mediator Madan Mohan Mittal was jostled and suffered a fall even as the Congress took its agitation outside the Assembly by holding a candlelight vigil at Sector 17 Plaza in Chandigarh this evening.

There was high drama in the Assembly building, too. Congress legislators tried to walk into the Speaker’s chamber, but found their way blocked by police personnel. Police personnel misbehaved with two women members, the Congress alleged.

The SAD, which had been changing its strategy in the Assembly frequently, did so again this morning with Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal moving a resolution to reinstate Congress legislator Rana Gurjit Singh who was expelled yesterday for advancing menacingly towards Revenue Minister Bikram Majithia and abusing him.

Though Sukhbir maintained the reinstatement of Rana Gurjit was made in an effort of reconciliation, the SAD was apparently keen to get the Opposition back to the House to listen to the Deputy CM’s reply on law and order issues raised by Congress legislature party leader Sunil Jakhar yesterday.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Madan Mohan Mittal proposed an adjournment and a meeting in Speaker Charanjit Singh Atwal’s chamber to effect reconciliation.

Accordingly first secretariat staff and then senior Akali leaders Parminder Dhindsa, Sharanjit Dhillon and Daljeet Singh Cheema requested the Opposition to come to the Speaker’s chamber for a meeting. The Opposition, however, refused to do so. Madan Mohan Mittal went to the agitating Congress legislators staging a dharna in the Assembly lobby. When he approached the Congress members, there was some pushing and jostling during arguments and he, along with Congress MLA Brahm Mohindra, fell on the floor.

Mittal came back to the Assembly and “reported” that Congress members had misbehaved and manhandled him following which the House passed a resolution condemning the action.

On behalf of the Congress, Jakhar said the party had lost faith in both the Deputy CM and the Speaker and that it would hold talks with only Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal. That could not be done because the CM was away to Nabha to attend the last rites of former minister Raja Narinder Singh.

The Congress went on to hold a candlelight vigil in the Sector 17 Plaza in Chandigarh. During the candlelight vigil, it telecast what Bikram Majithia said against Rana Gurjit in the Assembly yesterday. Meanwhile, Speaker Charanjit Atwal has denied that that he had been partial towards anyone. Terming whatever happened in the Assembly yesterday as unfortunate, he said he did not hear either Rana Gurjit or Bikram Majithia uttering abuses. “But the SAD-BJP moved a resolution demanding Rana’s expulsion in case he did not apologise for abusing Majithia, which I put to vote. This was my duty,” he said. 





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