Deadlock in Himachal Assembly persists – Opposition being gagged says BJP

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Shimla: Deadlock persisted in the HP assembly with opposition BJP insisting that it be allowed to discuss money laundering allegations against chief minister Virbhadra Singh and speaker BBL Butail failed to desist them from raising the demand. Not satisfied with the speaker’s intervention, the opposition later, for the 4th day, staged a walkout after slogan shouting failed to disrupt the house.

Before start of the question hours, the speaker made a passionate appeal to the opposition to participate in the proceedings. “I’m keen to run the house in harmony”, he said standing on his seat.

Leader of the opposition Prem Kumar Dhumal also expressed keenness to take part in the proceedings but pointed out, “voice of our members was being gagged.”

He said, “the chair allowed chief minister Virbhadra Singh to make a statement during question hour over an issue (money laundering allegations) whereas a notice by us (BJP) for suspending listed business and discussing the matter was rejected on the grounds that it was sub-judice.”

Speaker Butail responded that if the leader of the house wants to make a statement in the house at any time, the chair cannot stop him from doing so.

Senior BJP members Suresh Bhardwaj and Mohinder Singh also tried to impress upon the speaker to allow the opposition to discuss the money laundering case in the house but the speaker did not relent.

Slogan shouting by BJP that was countered by treasury benches led to a prolonged disruption. At the speakers intervention, the treasury benches were silenced and the chair proceeded with the question hour amidst the din.

After protesting by sloganeering and not participating in the question hour, the opposition finally walked out in defiance of the chair.

Later the chief minister made a statement saying, “the opposition and leader of opposition was not showing any interest in conducting the listed business and for four days was only interested in disrupted the houses proceedings.

Condemning the opposition, he said, “they are making personal accusations against me by raising an issue that is sub-judice.”

Daring the opposition to raise the issue outside the house, Singh said “if any member wants to make some irresponsible statements, let them do so outside the Vidhan Sabha.”

He added that  the treasury benches was very much capable for rebutting the opposition by raising the issues of leader of opposition having tried to grab public property under the garb of HP Cricket Association and its stadium. Two cases in the matter are pending before the courts and we are not raising them it in the house because the matter is sub judice”, said the chief minister.

With the opposition missing, the treasury benches conducted the days proceedings. Later the speaker had all the derogatory slogans expunged from the records.

Editor-Reporter with Hill Post, Ravinder Makhaik as a journalist has for over two decades worked for India’s leading newspapers and television networks.

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