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AAP MLAs on sit-in at Assembly, Opposition slams Amarinder government for not tabling bills against farm laws

AAP MLAs sat on an indefinite dharna in protest against the Punjab government for not tabling a Bill to counter the Centre’s farm laws on the first day of the two-day special Assembly session.

Published: 20th October 2020 02:41 AM  |   Last Updated: 20th October 2020 09:15 AM   |  A+A-

Farmers raise slogans as they block train tracks with tractors on the twentieth day of their ongoing 'Rail Roko' protest over recent farm reform bills. (Photo | PTI)

Express News Service

CHANDIGARH: AAP MLAs sat on an indefinite dharna in protest against the Punjab government for not tabling a Bill to counter the Centre’s farm laws on the first day of the two-day special Assembly session.

“Since the House was adjourned, 13 AAP MLAs sat inside the Well of the House. In the evening, Assembly Speaker Rana KP Singh placated them saying the session cannot be conveyed on Tuesday as their protest was on. Our MLAs are now sitting in the lobby of the Assembly,’’ said an AAP spokesperson.

Earlier, Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal had informed the House that the Amarinder Singh government is consulting constitutional experts and that the copies of the Bills will be provided to the opposition parties by the evening.

The Opposition also slammed the state government for not tabling legislation to counter the Centre's farm laws on the first day.

The House proceedings began on a stormy note as the AAP and the Shriomani Akali Dal (SAD) protested against the contentious farm laws.

The Akalis registered a formal protest for not being provided with the copies of the Bills. They also wrote to the Speaker urging him to take action against those responsible for not allowing SAD members to interact with the media.

The Akali MLAs claimed that the Bills were not being made public with three crore Punjabis because they were being finalised as per directions of the Modi government.

“The government is gearing up to betray Punjabis as it did in the case of the river waters termination Act in 2004 which allowed continuous flow of river waters to Haryana and Rajasthan,’’ an Akali leader said.

Reacting to it, Punjab Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal said they are consulting constitutional experts over the issue and copies of various bills to be tabled during the session will be given to the opposition parties by the evening.

The two-day special assembly session began with obituary references with Chief Minister Amarinder Singh leading the House in paying homage to the farmers who lost their lives during the ongoing agitation against the farm laws.

Punjab MLA Navjot Singh Sidhu attended the assembly session for the first time since his resignation from the state Cabinet last year.

SAD MLAs rode tractors to reach the Vidhan Sabha in protest against the farm laws.

They tore copies of the Centre's farm laws.

The House was adjourned for an hour by Speaker Rana K P Singh after the assembly took up obituary references.

The House reassembled for nearly 15 minutes before being adjourned till Tuesday.

As it reassembled, Leader of Opposition and AAP senior leader Harpal Cheema said the special session was called to counter new farm laws but the members "have not been given copies of the bills".

"Will we get copies of the bills after the session is over," he asked.

SAD member Gurpratap Singh Wadala said it seems the state government "does not have clarity" over the issue.

The main bill against the Centre's farm laws should have been first tabled and discussed in the House, he said.

"The entire Punjab is watching what the government is doing. The legislation to counter the Centre's farm laws should have been the first business of the House," said the SAD leader.

Senior SAD leader Bikram Singh Majithia told reporters that a "fixed match is going on between the Congress government in Punjab and the Centre".

"It seems the state government is under the Centre's pressure," he said, adding that the government is not clear what it needs to do.

Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal told the members in the House that they will get copies of bills to be tabled in the House in the evening.

He, however, said, "As far as countering farm laws is concerned, the government is already in consultation with constitutional experts."

Earlier, the Speaker told the House that only urgent and important government business will be transacted during the session.

He said questions or calling attention notices will not be taken up.

As soon as the session began, Amarinder Singh led the House in paying homage to farmers.

However, SAD leader Majithia demanded that names of the farmers who commit suicide should also be included in the obituaries.

The House also paid respects to freedom fighters, soldiers, political and other eminent personalities.

All members observed a two-minute silence as a mark of respect.

(With PTI Inputs)



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