BJP MLA suspended for a year; House adjourned sine die

The Rajasthan Assembly witnessed unprecedented scenes of unruly behaviour on Monday with a member from the Opposition hurling a footwear towards the treasury benches and a ruling party MLA taking out his shoe in response to it.

The footwear did not hit anyone but fell in the vacant space between the Officers' gallery and the first row where senior ministers, including the Chief Minister, are seated. The incident took place in the absence of Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and Leader of the Opposition Vasundhara Raje.

After a peaceful start last Monday and five days' sitting in the current session, the day turned out to be the most ignominious in recent Assembly history. The footwear episode led to the suspension of BJP MLA and former Parliamentary Secretary Bhawani Singh Rajawat from the House for a period of one year. The House was adjourned six times during the day before adjourning sine die around 6.25 p.m.

On many occasions, the Opposition members were in the well of the House shouting slogans, first demanding dismissal of Home Minister Shanti Dhariwal for his alleged dereliction in getting the department's annual report on time and later against Congress MLA Raghu Sharma who took off and waved his shoe from the treasury benches at BJP MLA Pramila Kundara.

The debate on corruption, initiated on the Opposition demand on Saturday, could not be taken to its logical conclusion in which Ms. Raje and Mr. Gehlot could have given their inputs.

In fact, after the enthusiasm shown initially to the debate, nobody seemed to care—perhaps in the post-Anna Hazare fast scene. Four Bills, including the important legislation on curbing corruption and red tape (the Rajasthan Guaranteed Delivery of Public Services Bill, 2011), were passed without a debate.

The trouble which led to the footwear episode started with Speaker Deependra Singh Shekhawat allowing Ms. Kundara to speak on the basis of a “parchi” or a slip-instead of a regular notice. What Ms. Kundara, MLA from Bassi, spoke was about “illegal registration” of land which formed part of a lake in her constituency by “an influential person”. Though she did not take names, Raghu Sharma started protesting against her observations, pointing out that the matter was not being brought in the manner in which the House proceedings called for. Some of the comments made by Mr. Sharma infuriated the Opposition and they, first led by the women MLAs, trooped into the well protesting.

As the members were milling around the podium of the Speaker— Surendra Singh Jadawat in the chair then—someone hurled a footwear.

The woman MLA who lost one of the pairs was found on the verge of tears explaining that she had left it at her seat while moving into the well. Even the person who hurled the missile could not be ascertained by the media sitting in the press gallery. As one of the uniformed sentries tried to pick up the footwear from the carpet, Congress MLA Pratap Singh Kachariawas snatched it and handed it over to Mr. Sharma for custody.

Virendra Beniwal, the Chief Whip of the ruling party who moved a resolution suspending Mr. Rajawat, confided outside the House later that the person was identified with the help of video-footage of the proceedings.