M A I N   N E W S

Punjab Assembly ruckus
Apology rejected, privilege motion passed against Jakhar
Jangveer Singh/TNS

Suspended Congress MLAs protest in front of the Speaker’s office in Chandigarh on Friday.
Suspended Congress MLAs protest in front of the Speaker’s office in Chandigarh on Friday. Tribune photo: Parvesh Chauhan

Chandigarh, March 15
Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and his deputy Sukhbir Singh Badal today closed ranks in Vidhan Sabha to reject a half-hearted apology served by Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader Sunil Jakhar for the ruckus created by his legislators in the Assembly two days ago.

The treasury benches also mounted pressure on the Opposition by passing a privilege motion against the CLP leader. He was charged with allegedly breaching House security by bringing in an unauthorised person — the Tarn Taran police assault victim — with him on Wednesday; the incident is at the root of the present crisis.

As the Assembly convened, the CLP leader remarked that Wednesday’s incidents in the assembly, both inside (taking over of the Speaker’s chair) and outside (manhandling of watch and ward staff), were unfortunate.

Initially, Speaker Charanjit Singh Atwal appeared inclined to accept Jakhar’s explanation and said he would consider the regret offered by the CLP leader.

Jakhar had led his flock into the House minus the nine MLAs who have been suspended for “unruly behaviour”. Though he took responsibility for the disruptive actions, he justified bringing along the assault victim. He said he did not think any wrong had been committed in doing so. After saying his bit, he trooped out, MLAs in tow, saying, “We will not participate till you (the Speaker) give your decision (on revoking the suspensions).”

Revenue Minister Bikram Majithia was soon on his feet, stating that Jakhar had not apologised for the “unruly behaviour” of his legislators and that the Congress MLAs should apologise, rather than justify their action.

Simultaneously reacting to a gesture from Sukhbir Badal, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Madan Mohan Mittal got up to move a breach of privilege motion against Jakhar. He said the CLP leader had openly admitted that he had allegedly brought an unauthorised person to the Assembly.

As the Speaker appeared to be evading the issue saying he would look into it, the Deputy Chief Minister got up to express the ruling alliance’s stand more firmly. He said the way the CLP leader had addressed the House indicated as if he had “come to justify his actions rather than to apologise for them”. Sukhbir said the regret should be “sincere” and all legislators responsible for the disruptions should apologise. The issue was clinched when Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal got up to support the contention of his deputy. This was in direct contrast to dichotomy in approach between the father and son when the latter restrained the former from giving his take on the Majithia-Rana Gurjit face-off.

Badal not only sought an apology from the Congress MLAs, but also hit out at the CLP leader saying “he had been unable to control his legislators”. He said the SAD-BJP alliance would not tolerate anything against the Chair.

Soon, Mittal was up on his feet moving a breach of privilege motion against the CLP leader for the “security lapse” in the House. The motion was passed and referred to the privilege committee for a final report within a month.





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