Disrupted by Cong sloganeering, Governor's address cut short

| | Chandigarh
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Disrupted by Cong sloganeering, Governor's address cut short

Saturday, 02 March 2024 | Monika Malik | Chandigarh

Punjab Assembly Budget session commenced on a turbulent note on Friday, marred by vehement protests and slogan-shouting by Congress MLAs against the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) Government, the BJP-led Central and Haryana Governments. The unruly scenes unfolded as the Governor Banwarilal Purohit attempted to deliver his customary address to the House — a tradition marking the onset of the budget session. However, for the first time in the recallable history of Vidhan Sabha, the Governor has to cut short his address to the House.


As the Governor ascended the podium to commence his address, Punjab Congress president and Gidderbaha MLA Amrinder Singh Raja Warring spearheaded the Opposition’s outcry, emphasizing the plight of farmers and demanding homage to Shubhkaran Singh, a young farmer who tragically lost his life amid clashes between protesting farmers and Haryana security personnel on February 21. “First, homage should be paid to Shubhkaran…It will be good if the Governor pays homage to the deceased young farmer,” he said.


Leader of Opposition Partap Singh Bajwa echoed Warring’s sentiments, lambasting the Haryana Government's actions and urging the Punjab Governor to prioritize discussions on the farmers’ grievances. “Haryana has sealed its borders with Punjab…You have not been able to protect your farmers,” Bajwa said to the Governor.


Responding, the Governor said: “I will request the Leader of Opposition that you have ample time to discuss these things. As per the agenda and custom, I am supposed to deliver my speech. After my speech, you can raise any issue.”


“There might be so many serious questions. I agree. But this is the time to deliver my speech…Why you are obstructing? This is not fair…I request you….This House is for debate, you will get ample time,” said Purohit, in a pleading voice asking the Congress members to listen to his address.


The Speaker Kultar Singh Sandhwan also requested the Congress MLAs to let the Governor complete his customary address. However, despite their repeated appeals for cooperation and adherence to protocol, the Congress MLAs persisted in their disruptive behaviour, raising slogans against the AAP-led Punjab Government, BJP led Haryana Government, and the Centre on the farmers’ issue.


Undeterred by pleas for decorum, the Congress members pressed for immediate action against Haryana Home Minister Anil Vij and vehemently sought the registration of FIRs for alleged atrocities against the protesting farmers. “Why zero FIR when Haryana Police is the clear culprit here,” asked Warring.


Despite the Speaker’s interventions and appeals for order, the slogan-shouting and placard-waving continued unabated, disrupting the proceedings and impeding the Governor's address. As the Congress members entered the well of the House, Sandhwan rose from his seat on three occasions and approached the Governor to share a few words in a hushed conversation.


Even though the Governor tried to continue with his address a couple of times amidst sloganeering, he was barely heard. “In this situation, it is very difficult for me to deliver the speech…,” said the Governor, who had hardly read a few lines from his address.


In a bid to restore order, Governor Purohit reiterated the importance of parliamentary decorum and urged the opposition members to allow the session to proceed as scheduled. However, faced with the unrelenting clamour and chaos, the Governor reluctantly announced his decision to abbreviate his speech, reading only the first and last paragraphs before abruptly concluding the same.


“As per the Rules, I am reading out the first line ... .and the last para ... .the rest of the speech be taken as read,” concluded visibly perturbed Purohit.


The truncated proceedings, lasting a mere 12 minutes, marked an unprecedented disruption in the annals of Punjab’s legislative history.


Mann Has No Moral Right to Continue as CM: Bajwa


Taking a strong stance on the inaugural day of the budget session, Congress Legislative Party (CLP) leader Partap Singh Bajwa demanded the resignation of Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann over the controversial handling of the ‘Zero FIR’ filed in the aftermath of the tragic death of young farmer Shubhkaran Singh. “It is high time to resign…He has no moral right to continue as CM…This farmers' agitation is the moral defeat of Bhagwant Mann and he must resign,” said Bajwa, while speaking to the media outside the House.


Bajwa, the Leader of the Opposition, asserted that Mann's tenure as Punjab CM had been marred by failures in protecting the state’s farmers and territory. Accusing Mann of capitulating to pressure from the BJP-led Union Government, he criticized the timing and manner of the FIR lodged in Shubhkaran Singh's case, alleging procedural irregularities and an attempt to dilute the seriousness of the matter.


Congress Disruption During Governor's Address an Insult to Assembly


Punjab Finance Minister Harpal Singh Cheema on Friday denounced the Congress’ disruptive behaviour during the Governor’s address at the beginning of the budget session, labeling it as “an insult” to the sanctity of the House and a desperate attempt to evade acknowledgment of the AAP-led Government's accomplishments.


In a scathing rebuke, Cheema lambasted the Congress MLAs for attempting to obstruct the Governor's speech, which included highlighting the State Government's achievements in the past year. He accused the opposition of fearing the dissemination of this information to the public through live broadcast, opting instead to create chaos and disrupt parliamentary proceedings.


“Despite being aware that obituary references, including those honouring the young farmer, Shubhkaran, who lost his life during the ongoing agitation on the Haryana borders, were scheduled after the Governor's address, the Congress attempted to disrupt the proceedings of the House during the speech,” said Cheema, addressing the media.


Cheema noted that the House intended to pay tribute to farmer Subhkaran Singh, who tragically passed away at the Khanauri border. However, the Congress MLAs sought to create chaos as the House proceedings were being broadcast live.


“Following the registration of a zero FIR, the police were diligently investigating the matter…who all are responsible...who are the real accused…who fired and from where — ensuring that the perpetrators would be apprehended and held accountable,” he added.


Cheema, emphasized that the longstanding tradition dictates the commencement of the budget session with the Governor's address, followed by paying tributes to notable figures, including farmer Shubhakaran Singh, who lost his life during the farmers’ struggle at Khanauri border between Haryana and Punjab.

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