The Tribune – Opposition’s unity stumps Congress

Ruchika M Khanna

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, 22 June 2017. Bitter political rivals Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) joined hands in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha today after the AAP MLAs were thrown out by marshals even as turbans of some MLAs were flung into the air.

The unexpected bonhomie stumped the treasury benches, with the CM alluding to a collusion between the two.

Akali MLAs literally hand-held the AAP MLA in their fight against the “tyranny of the treasury benches unleashed by the Congress in cohoots with the Speaker”.

Not only did SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal lead a walkout when AAP MLAs were being evicted, he and his MLAs later led the AAP MLAs back inside the House, pushing away the watch and ward staff. This, even as a dazed CM and Speaker looked on.

The SAD-BJP MLAs were annoyed at the Speaker rejecting their plea for tabling a privilege motion against Finance Minister Manpreet Badal and instead accepting a privilege motion against Akali MLA Pawan Kumar Tinu for his “unparliamentary” language against a minister yesterday.

Even as the Speaker adjourned the proceedings, an unfazed Sukhbir stayed on, refusing to be provoked by Congress MLAs. By this time, the Speaker had announced that all AAP MLAs be removed. The SAD-BJP objected to each AAP MLA being lifted and thrown out by four-five marshals. Akali MLA Tinu too was manhandled as he opposed the marshals.

Sukhbir objected to the use of force against two women MLAs, but to no avail. At this juncture, Bikram Majithia returned to the House with the turban of AAP MLA Manjit Singh Bilaspur and placed it on the table.

The Speaker urged the MLAs to let the House function and the CM to speak. But Sukhbir insisted that the turban of a Gursikh was more important than any House announcement. Majithia said the Punjab Vidhan Sabha owed its existence to the turban (referring to the Punjabi Suba movement).

As the Akalis raised slogans of “death of democracy at the hands of the Speaker”, the latter ordered the watch and ward staff to evict all SAD-BJP MLAs from the House. But the MLAs walked out on their own.

Later, Sukhbir held a press conference where he raised the issue of three women MLAs of AAP, Baljinder Kaur, Rupinder Kaur and Sarabjit Kaur Manuke, being manhandled. He said they would launch an agitation for the removal of the Speaker for his “bias” against the Opposition.


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