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AAP seeks extension of Punjab Budget session
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) on Tuesday wrote to Punjab Vidhan Sabha Speaker Rana KP Singh to extend the forthcoming Budget Session, starting on March 20, to at least 15 sittings.
As of now, since the session is slated till March 28, it is expected to have six or seven sittings only due to a holiday and the weekend between the duration of the session.
AAP MLA from Kharar Kanwar Sandhu, in his letter, pointed out that usually, the budget sessions in Punjab have between nine and 15 sittings. Instead of having a longer session, the one which has been called, falls woefully short of even the earlier sessions, he said.
The Leader of Opposition in Vidhan Sabha and Bholath MLA Sukhpal Singh Khaira, who has endorsed Sandhu’s letter, also demanded extending the Session to the second week of April.
Sandhu said that clearly, the session’s duration has been dictated by the Government’s listing of business. “As the Speaker of the August House, you are its custodian and the duration of the session is your and not Government’s prerogative. The Government could give you a list of the business that it seeks to bring forward. As the Speaker, you could ask each of the Opposition parties for their list of business before taking the final call on the number of sittings the House would have,” said Sandhu.
A journalist-turned-politician, Sandhu, said that Punjab was today facing a severe crisis forcing the people to head for foreign countries which can be addressed only through discussion and debate and not by pushing them under the carpet.
“By following the agenda set by the Government, you have opened the August office of the Speaker to the charge of being grossly and blatantly partisan,” alleged Sandhu.
On his party’s behalf, Sandhu listed out 11 issues as “business of the party” which it would want to be discussed in the Budget Session including sanctity of manifesto, State’s finances, farm debt waiver, unemployment, mafia raj, among others.
Sandhu questioned how the Congress Government was planning to implement its manifesto. “Election Manifesto of the opposition parties, including that of AAP, should also be discussed and these parties given a chance to explain how they would have implemented these...Unless we debate the issue, people of Punjab will continue to be defrauded by the plethora of poll promises,” he said.
He also demanded complete discussion on Punjab’s finances pointing that all three main parties hold divergent views. “While the Congress Government says that it has inherited empty coffers from the SAD-BJP Government, the SAD-BJP claims that if they are given two months they can swing matters; while AAP is critical of both. Let each one explain their respective stand,” he said.
On the issue of waiving off the farm debt, Sandhu said that the Vidhan Sabha should consider passing a resolution urging the Central Government’s help to Punjab.
Sandhu also listed the issues of education and health systems, alienation of NRIs, protecting Punjab’s natural resources, lack of affordable housing, besides other life-threatening issues which need to be debated like drug abuse, road accidents, and safety of women, the increasing problem of village ponds, menace of stray cattle, and wild animals.
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