- Party still boycotts day’s session, says will attend from today
Junaid Nabi Bazaz/ Moazum Mohammad
SRINAGAR: The National Conference has decided to call off its boycott and attend the assembly session from Thursday after the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly Kavinder Gupta and Chairman of Legislative Council Anayat Ali revoked the suspension orders of four NC legislators.
The heads of both the Houses had suspended the legislators after they vociferously protested against the rejection of a motion on Article 35A on Tuesday.
When the Houses met on Wednesday, Congress members and independent MLAs and MLCs stood up from their seats in unison and asked the Speaker and the Chairman to withdraw the suspension orders. CM Mufti Mohammad Sayeed in the lower house and Deputy CM Nirmal Singh in the upper house also intervened and “requested Speakers to withdraw the orders in order to maintain the spirit of democracy” after which both were reinstated.
The LC Chairman asked Congress leaders led by GN Monga to bring back the members to the House: “You can go and ask the (suspended) members to attend the House again.” However, Monga informed the council that former CM Omar Abdullah had conveyed to him he (Omar) would take a decision on it. Thus, for the entire day, the duo along with other NC MLCs boycotted the entire proceedings.
On his part, Mufti Sayeed told Gupta that “The assembly is meant to impose, dispose and expose ideas. We are here to respond to the Opposition’s concerns. I firmly believe in the battle of ideas and therefore I request these (suspension) orders be revoked.”
The Speaker immediately withdrew the order and asked Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami to inform the NC. In the upper house, Nirmal Singh asked the Chairman to follow the precedence set by the Speaker of the Assembly. Anayat withdraw the order on the condition that “such things should not repeated by the suspended legislators in the future.”
On hearing the Speaker’s order, Congressman GM Saroori responded that if the same attitude had been followed earlier, the House would have conducted its proceedings in letter and spirit.
After the revocation the Opposition members asked the Speaker to adjourn the day and start a discussion on “alarming unemployment” and “unidentified killings”. The Speaker however rejected the former and said the latter issue would be taken up for discussion in Zero hour. In response, the Congress walked out and returned after an hour.
In between, Independent MLA Rashid who was not heard by the Speaker since the start of the session, jumped into the well and shouted at the Speaker for not giving him a chance to speak.
He then walked up to the seat of Irrigation Minister Sukhnandan Kumar, who had been answering a question. “I won’t allow you to speak if I am not allowed to ask,” Rashid told Kumar.
“Keep quiet,” Kumar shouted back. “Your system has failed. Do what you want do to do. I am not afraid of the police, if you ask them to arrest me. I won’t leave the House without putting forth my point,” replied Rashid. Law Minister Basharat Bukhari intervened and asked the Speaker to give Rashid a chance to speak.
Rashid then said that be believed “in true secularism and not the Congress secularism. Don’t paint me with the same brush as the NC and Congress…I simply wanted to ask the Speaker when my beef ban bill is going to be discussed, and that it must be given sufficient time.”
Later, the Speaker responded by saying that he has given a nod to all bills and Rashid’s motion too would be given time. The session, which ended at 1 pm as per the listed business, also laid down the Jammu and Kashmir legal service authorities (amendment) ordinance passed by the Law Minister.
In the LC, Monga also asked the Chairman to discuss an adjournment motion on the power tariff hike in the state, which led to a brief verbal duel between the Opposition and treasury benches. The Chairman, however, told Congress MLCs they will be given half an hour to discuss the issue.
However, this failed to assuage Congress MLCs, who then staged a walkout, questioning the working of government in the past seven months. “There was a five-fold increase in power tariffs during your rule,” retorted Education Minister Naeem Akhtar.