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With Badal away, itís Akalis versus Akalis in Punjab Assembly
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 17
Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal would not have liked it: On a day he chose to skip the Assembly, his party MLAs clashed with each other, leaving amused Congress members thumping their desks.

Things took an ironical turn when Akali legislator Virsa Singh Valtoha walked out during Zero Hour, refusing to listen to Speaker Charanjit Singh Atwal.

There was more: When Congress MLA Raj Kumar Verka took up Budget allocation for Dalits, Akali MLAs Jagir Kaur and Tota Singh exchanged sharp words. Later, Education Minister Daljit Singh Cheema and former Education Ministers Sikander Singh Maluka and Tota Singh got into an argument over restarting examination for Class 1 to 8 in government schools.

SADís Jagir Kaur took on Agriculture Minister Tota Singh for his reply on delayed construction of grain markets at Nadala and Begowal in Kapurthala district.

Tota Singh claimed the construction was delayed as the government was yet to get possession of the land required for the sites. When Jagir Kaur informed him that the land had already been allotted and was lying vacant, the Agriculture Minister said the plinth level of the site was around eight metre low and Rs 10 crore were required to bring it to a proper level where the rain water was drained.

Jagir Kaur corrected him saying that he did not seem to have seen the sites and was over-relying on his officials. She said the ground level was only about two metre low and villagers were willing to provide free sand to fill it. When Tota Singh suggested that she should get the site filled, she said it was the job of his department. Amid the din, a Congress MLA said the Akalis had gone into an overdrive of laying foundation stones of projects that were never started, which cost them dear in the recent Lok Sabha elections.

Meanwhile, a clash of opinion on whether education was a state or Central subject took place between Education Minister Daljit Singh Cheema, Tota Singh and Rural Development Minister Sikander Singh Maluka.

When Congress MLA Tarlochan Singh asked if education was a state subject and enquired about the status of governmentís proposal to restart the examination of Classes 1 to 8, Cheema said education was a concurrent subject with the Central Government and the state did not have powers to re-start the examination. At this, the Congress MLA posed a supplementary question that the House had discussed the matter earlier also and the government had said they were taking up the matter with the Centre. He wanted to know why the Assembly could not move a resolution to the effect. As Cheema insisted that the Right to Compulsory Education Act, 2009, was a Central Act, Tota Singh sought to correct him saying the matter was a state subject.

Maluka said during his tenure as the Education Minister, a committee of Education Ministers of several states was formed and it was decided that examinations should be conducted. He said the Centre should be pressed for the matter again as all MLAs seemed to agree on the issue. By that time Cheema got papers concerning the matter and took on Akali members saying the copy of the Constitution said education was a Central subject. At the beginning of the Zero Hour, Valtoha had staged a walkout.

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