JAMMU: Ahead of the commencement of the first session of the Assembly on March 18, 42 first-time legislators on Monday got lessons on legislative procedures and business from Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed and former Finance Minister Abdul Rahim Rather.
The 23-day session, the first after the PDP-BJP alliance took charge, is expected to be a stormy one in view of several contentious issues, including withdrawal of AF SPA, return of Mohammad Afzal Guru’s mortal remains and the Article 370, to be raised by opposition parties.
Describing the state legislature as a “place of great sanctity and honour”, Mufti called upon the first-time legislators to maintain its pride and play the principal role of lawmakers “so that the society functions in a much better way”.
Mufti was speaking after inaugurating the workshop organized by J&K Institute of Management, Public Administration & Rural Development (IMPARD) at EDI Complex here.
Welcoming the new members to the day-long workshop, Mufti described the J&K legislature as “one of the most powerful Houses of the country” and asked the members to ensure its honour is safeguarded.
“I want the new legislators to highlight issues on general policies of the government and problems confronting their respective constituencies,” he said, adding that no other forum can match the powers that emanate out of the legislature.
Urging the newly-elected legislators to initiate quality debates, the Chief Minister said the legislature gives unlimited powers to those who are not in power. “I urge the members to take this workshop seriously so that you acquaint yourselves about the rules and procedures in vogue and highlight the areas of worry,” he said.
Stressing on revival of debates par excellence in the Houses, the Chief Minister urged the Opposition to keep the government on its toes and highlight its weaknesses.
“I hope those sitting on the opposition benches will play a constructive role in pointing out the shortcomings of the government. I assure that their views and observations will be taken seriously. We are here to do business in the Houses so that people who are the real stakeholders on the ground benefit from the policies and laws that we frame,” Mufti said.
Referring to the government’s decision to call a Budget Session instead of a Vote-on-Account from March 18 later this week, the Chief Minister emphasized the significance of the Houses in conveying to the people the future policies and programmes of the coalition government. “We have to run the business of the Houses efficiently so that the issues confronting the people are highlighted and resolved in a better way,” he said, adding that he wants to place the ‘Agenda of the Alliance’ of the coalition government before the people.
Mufti advised his Council of Ministers, most of whom are first-time MLAs/MLCs, to attend the workshop to familiarize themselves about the procedure of rules and business.
Later, the Chief Minister sat through the first technical session which was conducted by former Finance Minister, Abdul Rahim Rather. He shared with the new entrants his vast experience as a former Speaker and Minister for Law, Justice & Parliamentary Affairs in running the affairs of the state legislature. He also made them aware about the best practices available to successfully conduct the business in the Legislature.
Nirmal Singh, in his address, called the workshop a very progressive idea that will benefit the legislators in highlighting their issues of concern. “Indian democracy is very vibrant. People have reposed their trust in its institutions. I thank the Chief Minister for coming up with this very novel idea of organizing a workshop so that our new Legislators, including me, are able to gain knowledge and comprehend rules. It will also make us aware about how we conduct ourselves inside and outside the Houses,” he said.