Under attack by the Opposition for not acting against the “rebel” legislators, Punjab Vidhan Sabha Speaker Rana KP Singh on Tuesday threw an open challenge, declaring that everyone is free to take legal recourse.
“If anyone has a problem, he is free to approach the courts…But I will act as per the law,” the Speaker made it clear.
Adding, the Speaker said that the legislature, in its wisdom, has put no time limit on the Speaker to decide (the matter).
The Speaker’s assertion came after the opposition parties — Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) — urged him to take action under the anti-defection law against the MLAs who switched sides.
The issue was raised by Akali legislator and former Minister Bikram Singh Majithia during the zero hour when the AAP MLA Kanwar Sandhu urged the Speaker to initiate action against those MLAs who had created ruckus inside the Assembly, and even insulted the Governor by shouting slogans, tearing and burning copies of his address.
On this, Majithia said that he did not want to speak against anyone, but questioned why the Speaker was kind to the rebels.
“Four or five MLAs go here and there from time-to-time (leave their parent parties to join others). Bajwa sahib had also inducted one. Speaker sahab, you had also inducted one. But the Constitution says that they should be dismissed, otherwise what is the use of the anti-defection law?” said Majithia.
Also joining in, AAP MLA and the Leader of Opposition Harpal Singh Cheema pointed that the party has also written to the Speaker demanding action against them, “but no action has been taken yet”.
Notably, AAP has been seeking disqualification of its rebel legislator Sukhpal Singh Khaira under the anti-defection law. In January 2019, Cheema had written to the Speaker for Khaira’s disqualification under the 10th Schedule of the Constitution for quitting the party and floating his own political outfit.
Khaira, elected MLA from Bholath constituency as AAP candidate, had floated his own political outfit — Punjab Ekta Party (PEP) — ahead the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, but failed to make a mark. Another AAP MLA from Jaiton, Master Baldev Singh, had also left AAP and joined Khaira’s political party, but later returned to his parent party.
Another AAP MLA Nazar Singh Manshahia, who was elected on AAP ticket from Mansa, had also tendered his resignation from the state Assembly and joined the Congress before the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
Rupnagar MLA Amarjit Singh Sandoa too had joined the Congress before the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. But in December 2020, Sandoa returned to his parent party AAP.
“It is unfortunate that the Vidhan Sabha Speaker has failed to disqualify AAP leaders who had left the party to either form their own political fronts or had joined the Congress. Now these same legislators are being used by the Congress to oppose SAD for holding a protest against Governor VP Singh Badnore at the assembly yesterday,” said Majithia.
ACCEPT MY RESIGNATION SPEAKER SAHAB: NAGRA
Nearly six months after he resigned as the member of Punjab legislative assembly in protest against the passage of Centre’s three farm laws, Congress MLA from Fatehgarh Sahib Kuljit Singh Nagra on Tuesday urged the Speaker Rana KP Singh to accept his resignation. Nagra, who announced his resignation as MLA on September 17 last year, said that he was firm on his resignation, and wanted the Speaker to accept it at the earliest. Speaking during the discussion on the Governor’s Address on the second day of the budget session, Nagra said: “Speaker sahib, please accept my resignation. I have said this many times before. I resigned when the agriculture bills were passed in the Parliament.”