Punjab CM Mann gives ‘lock & key’ to Speaker to stop Oppn from walking out of House

Governor's address to the state Assembly on the opening day of the Budget session was disrupted by the Congress MLAs, who raised the issues of protesting farmers and resorted to sloganeering.
Punjab CM Bhagwant Mann addressing the Vidhan Sabha session recently.
Punjab CM Bhagwant Mann addressing the Vidhan Sabha session recently. File photo | PTI

CHANDIGARH: Pandemonium engulfed the Punjab Assembly on Monday on the second day of the budget session after Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann handed over a “lock and key” to the speaker, urging him to lock the opposition inside the house to prevent them from walking out during a discussion.

In a departure from norms, Speaker Kultar Singh Sandhwan initiated the day’s proceedings with a discussion on the Governor’s address instead of the listed Question Hour. This decision came after a request from AAP MLAs, deviating from the usual practice of addressing the ‘Question Hour’ and ‘Zero Hour’ at the start of a session.

Prior to the discussion, CM Mann handed Sandhwan an envelope containing the “lock and key,” instructing him to secure the House’s door from inside to prevent opposition members from leaving during the discussion. “I will speak the truth, and they will not tolerate it. Lock the door so they cannot escape,” Mann told the Speaker.

Mann criticised opposition lawmakers for disrupting the Governor’s address on the opening day of the Budget session on March 1, demanding a discussion in the House.

Leader of the Opposition and Congress MLA Partap Singh Bajwa, along with other party MLAs, strongly objected to Mann’s statement. A heated argument ensued between AAP and Congress legislators, prompting the Speaker to adjourn the house for 15 minutes. Bajwa assured Mann that they would not leave, but Mann persisted, leading to further confrontation.

The Speaker clarified that the decision to lock the House’s door was symbolic to facilitate discussion. Even after the adjournment, AAP lawmakers rushed towards the opposition benches following a remark from Bajwa, with the verbal exchange narrowly avoiding physical confrontation.

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