It was a battle within the opposition. Legislators of the SAD-BJP combine and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) indulged in a slugfest over the issue of drugs on the second day of the winter session of Punjab assembly here on Tuesday. But the Akalis later changed tack, as both sides have leaders allegedly named by other accused.
Apparently shifting gears and route, the SAD-BJP MLAs switched to the issue of farm debt waiver, a key promise of the Congress regime to the state’s peasantry, considered a core constituency of the SAD.
First, as the second day’s proceedings began, SAD-BJP MLAs tried to turn the tables on AAP’s Sukhpal Singh Khaira, who is leader of the opposition, over the drug issue by showing placards having pictures of Khaira with alleged kingpins. But they were unable to make a major impact as the AAP alleged drug charges against Majithia and demanded a CBI inquiry. Both the AAP and SAD-BJP MLAs got into the well, and for few minutes the House witnessed Khaira and Majithia charged up against each other, forcing the speaker to adjourn for 30 minutes.
As the House resumed after a 30-minute adjournment, 14 MLAs of the combine — 11 of SAD and three of BJP — were in the well for at least an hour until the house was adjourned for the day. They protested and raised slogans against the Congress government for non-implementation of the debt waiver, such as “Lara lappa lai rakh da…kisana nu marvayi rakhda!” Loosely translated from Punjabi, it means, “You make big promises, even as farmers continue to die.”
Former CM Parkash Singh Badal and former deputy CM Sukhbir Singh Badal, who leads the SAD, left the House early because of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) presidential polls scheduled for Wednesday. Two Akali MLAs, Dilraj Singh Bhunder and Lakhvir Singh Lodhinangal, stayed away from the day’s proceedings.
“We stuck to the core issue concerning Punjab — failure of the government in debt waiver — whereas the AAP, which had sought homage to the farmers who committed suicide, forgot to take up their issue after that,” said Bikram Singh Majithia, who led the coalition MLAs after the Badals left.
No debate permitted
The Vidhan Sabha speaker, though, rejected an adjournment motion moved by the SAD for a debate on the debt waiver issue, saying that the state government had already kept a provision of funds in the budget for the propose and has also issued a notification rolling out the waiver. After the day’s proceedings were over, Sukhbir termed this rejection as deliberate attempt by government to hide its failure.
“No farmer’s loan has been waived till now. The government’s false announcements have ruined farming… 300 farmers have committed suicide and some have even taken names of CM Capt Amairnder Singh in their suicide notes,” he said.
29 Feb 2020
01 Mar 2020