We represent 1.25 crore people of J&K: Sagar
Jammu: Cutting across party lines, legislators from the opposition as well as from the ruling party alleged that the institution of MLA (legislator) was being undermined in the state.
Opposition legislators accused the government of creating “over ground workers (OGWs)” in their constituencies to undermine the respective legislators.
“This is not a powerful legislature,” National Conference legislator Ali Muhammad Sagar said. “What is the criteria of being an MLA? We represent 1.25 crore people of J&K.”
Sagar said that Rs 616 crore remained unspent for last 3 years because local legislators were not being taken into consideration.
“It is my sixth term as MLA so is Mohammad Shafi Uri’s in the house but we are not given time to ask questions, supplementary,” he noted.
Sagar complained that the government was maintaining silence on SKIMS controversy, and did not respond to queries on arrest of Bilal Kawa.
“You have blocked all ways to question,” Sagar said. “But when government MLAs are not listened to how can we be heard?” he told Parliamentary Affairs minister, Abdul Rehman Veeri.
CPI(M) legislator M Y Tarigami, and MLA Khan Sahib Hakeem Yaseen criticised the government for rehabilitating defeated candidates as vice chairmen of cash starved corporations.
“They are defeated candidates but now you are getting them in through back door. People have elected us and at least answer us what we ask you in writing,” he told the government while complaining that ministers were not responding to queries from legislators.
Tarigami said that powers of an MLA were being curtailed. “Trust on mainstream politics is reducing,” Tarigmai said. “Educated people are delinking themselves from us and they are going to other options and common people too are going away because you are weakening the political institutions particularly that of an MLA.”
“You are weakening the trust of people,” he said.
MLA Kangan, Mian Altaf said that system of asking legislators about his constituency during district development board (DDB) meetings was “totally defunct now”.
“Weakening of MLAs is not good for democracy and not for this state,” he said. “Avoiding the assembly session is the biggest weakness of this government,” he seconded Tarigami who had questioned as why no session was held in Srinagar last year.
Joining in the attack, Kupwara MLA Bashir Ahmad Dar representing Peoples Conference, an ally of the government, expressed his own helplessness.
“We are undermining this institution of MLA in which biggest role is ours,” Dar said. “Opposition can go to their people and tell them they can’t do anything but I am caught with ruling party and I wonder to leave this or join the opposition,” he said.
“BJP MLAs are crying for themselves; Haemin zaleel kiya jaraha hai… aag lag jayee gi if I reveal everything,” he claimed.
Dar said the PDP had “made their workers as Upper Ground Workers (OGWs) against the sitting MLAs”.
“My plans/works are pending in DC office Kupwara but the DC has pressure to get works of Rajya Sabha MP done at priority,” he alleged. “And those plans (of MP) have come through their (PDP) Halqa president.”
“What should I do? I should prefer to be out of this house or join the opposition,” he questioned.
On this, another ruling PDP MLA, Mohammad Ashraf Mir, stood up: “the government has undermined the institution of an MLA,” he seconded.
“I don’t know what I will have to see in future but I have joined it,” he said of the pro-India political institution.
On persistent demand of MLAs, deputy speaker, Nazir Ahmad Gurezi, granted one hour to debate the role of an MLA, after the grants are done,.
PDP MLA Baramulla, Javed Beg, sought necessary steps “to save this institution”.
“Either tell us we have nothing to do or give us powers. The power of this assembly is being curtailed,” he said. “We bragged that this is the powerful assembly but we are being cut to size. I am relevant because of my people. It is not like that I belong to government. You certainly empower Panchayats but don’t destroy the institution of MLAs. Elections to Panchayat should happen but secure the role of MLAs.”
“Define the role of MLA; it is the issue of house; make a house committee and I expect the leaders of the house will take this grave issue in to consideration,” he said.
Mohammad Akbar Lone, former speaker from NC, said that DCs were holding Awami darbar with small time PDP workers. “Don’t make DCs your pillions,” he asked Veeri. “Divisional Commissioner Kashmir is a good person but he has only one file in his hands that is of CM directions and keeps on moving around. Ask him to do some other work as well.”
PDP’s MLA Abdul Rahim Rather said, if the institution is not respected, the trust of people on democracy would vanish.
NC’s Abdul Majeed Larmi sought a separate flag for MLAs.
In his reply Veeri said, “CM will now herself chair DDB meetings so that decisions are implemented on time.”
He said that when it comes to the sanctity of the house “we all are one”. “We will do anything to keep its decorum maintained as it was the powerful assembly of India.”