Bholath MLA Sukhpal Khaira films House ruckus, suspended for session

Chandigarh, June 17: Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) legislators, raising slogans inside the Punjab Vidhan Sabha, on Friday attacked the Congress government for its “failure” to announce a loan waiver for farmers. Some were seen in a cantankerous spat with Congress MLAs. But it was AAP’s Bholath MLA Sukhpal Khaira who was suspended by Speaker Rana KP Singh for the rest of the session for uploading a video of the unruly scenes on Facebook.

With Khaira recording the heated exchanges between Akali and Congress MLAs, that ensued after an outburst by Minister for Local Bodies Navjot Singh Sidhu, Congress MLAs, who were led by Kuljit Singh Nagra, raised objections. Subsequently, Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Brahm Mohindra moved a motion and Khaira was suspended for the session.

The AAP MLA refused to hand over his cellphone, arguing that other MLAs were carrying phones as well, that House proceedings were not in progress when he had shot the video and that similar incidents had occurred in the past too. As AAP MLAs, led by Leader of the Opposition HS Phoolka, protested the decision, the Speaker adjourned the House.

“I equate the unfair attitude of the Speaker with the Abdalis, Duranis and Mughals who mercilessly executed people, denying them an opportunity to defend themselves,” a defiant Bholath MLA said. Tempers ran high during question hour as SAD and Congress MLAs entered into a spat over the “unparliamentary” language used for Tourism and Culture Minister.

Congress MLAs Amrinder Singh Raja Warring, Nagra, Parminder Singh Pinky and Rana Sodhi stormed into the well of the House and nearly came to blows with Akali members. SAD’s Rozy Barkandi was pushed by Ghanaur MLA Thekedar Madan Lal Jalalpura. There were at least two adjournments and two walkouts.

Earlier as the session began, SAD-BJP MLAs, including Pawan Kumar Tinu, Ajit Singh Kohar, NK Sharma, HPS Chandumajra and Arun Narang, rushed to the House well, raising slogans over “unkept” poll promises. The protests became louder as Sidhu got up to reply.
The minister lost his cool while responding to a query on the Harike project after certain remarks were made against him. An enraged Sidhu then spoke of the “illegal activities” of the Badal family, blaming them for the Rs 350 crore PRTC loss.

Addressing the Assembly on the third day of the Budget session, CM Amarinder Singh reiterated his government’s commitment to fulfilling all poll promises, including a loan waiver and “kurki” (auction) abolition for the debt-ridden farmers. Over repeated disruptions, he said: “The prestige of the Speaker’s office has never been lowered like this by throwing paper missiles at him.”

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