Irate Congress legislators demanding debate ‘sleep over’ in Punjab assembly

Chandigarh, Sep 13 (IANS) Protesting against the Punjab Speaker’s decision to disallow a debate on a no-confidence motion, 27 lawmakers of the opposition Congress spent the night in the house and said they will stay in it till Wednesday morning when it assembles again.

Meanwhile, the other party legislators staged a sit-in outside the secretariat.

Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal on Tuesday went to the assembly to meet the protesting members and urged them to end the stalemate and vacate the house but they refused to relent, demanding a discussion in the house on their no-confidence motion moved a day earlier.

“All the Congress legislators participated in the day-long protest (on Monday) over the Speaker’s refusal to allow our members to speak on a no-confidence motion,” Congress Legislative Party leader Charanjit Singh Channi told IANS.

He said the legislators spent the night inside the house to lodge their protest despite the electricity supply being disconnected.

“Our protest inside the assembly would continue till the house assembles on Wednesday,” Channi added.

The Congress was demanding a debate on the government’s failure to protect the interests of the state on the Sutlej-Yamuna Link (SYL) canal and deteriorating law and order situation in the state.

The protesters inside the assembly included four women legislators, who wore aprons that read “Punjab da cancer, Badal sarkar”.

“We had requested the assembly secretary to provide three or four women support staff to ensure our safety in the night but no one was there,” said legislator Karan Kaur Brar.

She said they spent their night in the house without lights and air-conditioning.

Official sources said initially the electricity was disconnected on Monday but late in the evening it was restored. Likewise, the staff attached with the legislators was allowed to stay with them on Tuesday.

Describing the first-of-its-kind incident in the state unfortunate, Congress leader Amarinder Singh said the government did not want to discuss the issues related to the common man in the house.

“For the first time in history the opposition has made the government to walk out of the house,” he said in a statement.

“You may be able to run away from the Vidhan Sabha, how long can you run away from the people and we are going to drag you to people’s court,” the former Chief Minister added.

This is the last session of the assembly before the state goes to the polls early next year.

Other Congress legislators, comprising former Chief Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Kewal Dhillon and former ministers Lal Singh and Brahm Mohindra who were denied entry into the assembly on Tuesday, staged a sit-in protest outside the Punjab secretariat here.

The trouble started on Monday evening when the no-confidence motion was defeated even before the debate could take place by a voice vote and amidst pandemonium, Speaker Charanjit Singh Atwal adjourned the house till Wednesday.

“Unless we are assured that the debate on our motion will take place on Wednesday, we will not relent,” Bhattal told reporters.

She said the Speaker had allotted three hours for debate on the no-confidence motion but at the last minute, he adjourned the house.

–IANS

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