The impact of the recent orientation programme for legislators was clearly visible in the Delhi Assembly on Wednesday as despite the continuous protest by the opposition BJP members in the well on the issue of price rise and increase in taxes and fares, Speaker Yoganand Shastri went ahead with the full schedule for the day without expelling them from the House.
As soon as the House assembled for the first day’s proceedings, Dr. Shastri said he was hopeful that the members would have learnt quite a bit from the programme and would raise issues as per rules. With the session having just six sittings, he said it was important to utilise every second effectively for living up to the expectations of the people.
Dr. Shastri also allowed three senior BJP leaders – V.K. Malhotra, Jagdish Mukhi and Harsh Vardhan – to speak on various issues before question hour. The BJP members – who had all come dressed in black to register their protest against the manner in which the common man has been burdened with price rise and higher taxes, tariffs and fares – were up on their feet from the word go.
Prof. Malhotra began by saying that Delhiites were finding it hard to survive and it was a “question of their existence.” He said this situation has arisen because the Government has not being working with compassion. “This is the blackest year and we are wearing black clothes to show what we feel.”
As other BJP members kept raising slogans against the Delhi Government, Prof. Malhotra charged that hike in taxes and increase in bus and metro rail fares and power and water tariffs had made it difficult to survive.
Dr. Vardhan drew a comparison between the prices of various commodities a year ago and now and read out from a list that detailed how the prices had gone up between 50 per cent and 300 per cent in several cases.
Prof. Mukhi said the law and order situation was abominable as there have been 440 murders in the past 10 months and the street crime has risen so much that every other day a trader is robbed or a woman assaulted somewhere. He said people are now compelled to take their associates along while carrying cash.
After this the Speaker welcomed two new members, Praduman Rajput from Dwarka and Asif Mohammad Khan from Okhla, who had got elected during the by-elections.
Thereafter as the Speaker initiated the question hour, the BJP members continued their protest forcing a half-an-hour adjournment.
When the House re-assembled Prof. Mukhi led other members into the well of the House and squatted there. Despite the constant slogan shouting by the BJP members, who also held aloft computer generated protest cards, the Speaker went ahead with special mention under Rule 280 and the non-BJP members participated in it.
After this the presentation of reports and the laying of the papers on the table went ahead as per the schedule.
However, the BJP members refused to participate in the short duration discussion on the “problem of price rise in the Capital” which had been initiated by them and was to feature Dr. Vardhan, Sri Krishan Tyagi and S.C.L. Gupta.
Dr. Shastri then observed that “it will be said that you asked for a discussion but did not participate in it.” He also expressed his dismay at the BJP for not availing itself of the opportunity to discuss the issue on which it had been protesting all day and that too in a short session.