Noisy scenes were witnessed in the Punjab State Assembly on Tuesday as the ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) moved a ‘confidence motion’, even as the Opposition termed ‘operation lotus’ as a figment of the imagination of the AAP government, created to deflect attention from the real issues concerning people of Punjab.
The MLAs of the Congress, Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP), and Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) opposed the move to bring the confidence motion.
The two BJP MLAs Ashwani Sharma and Jangi Lal Mahajan walked out of the House. Congress MLAs led by the Leader of the Opposition Partap Singh Bajwa condemned the move, terming it as challenging the authority and power of the Governor. He said it in reference to the Governor’s recent denial of permission for bringing a ‘confidence motion only’. He also alleged that when he enquired about the ‘confidence motion’ in the Business Advisory Committee meeting, he was not given any reply.
As Congress MLAs continued to shout slogans the House was repeatedly adjourned, after which Speaker Kultar Singh Sandhwan asked the Marshalls to remove Congress MLAs and directed them not to attend the session for the remainder of the day.
After moving the confidence motion, Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann said the Congress and BJP as twin faces of the same coin, adding that the confidence motion has been necessitated as both the parties have joined hands to topple the democratically elected governments in the state. “BJP is using anti-defection law as a new tool to form governments in the state through back door in the country and unfortunately despite of being its worst victim the Congress is supporting it,” he said.
He said that in a democracy government is of the people, for the people, and by the people but BJP and Congress are trying to insult the mandate of the people through ‘Operation Lotus’.
The session has been extended till October 3.
Outside the House, Congress members staged a protest pointing out that the motion of confidence was not on the agenda of the BAC meeting.
Mr. Bajwa said, “First the Bhagwant Mann government had summoned assembly session completely against the constitutional provisions which were rightfully declined by the Punjab Governor... The Opposition parties never sought the no-confidence motion against the Punjab government. So, what was the need to prove its majority on the floor of the house that was not needed and completely unconstitutional,” he said.
Mr. Bajwa said there was nothing called “Operation Lotus”, and it was only the figment of the imagination of the AAP government created to deflect attention from the real issues concerning the people of Punjab.
SAD MLA Manpreet Singh Ayali said the purpose of the confidence motion through the backdoor is solely to politicize the bribery allegations made by AAP against the BJP to derive political benefit in the upcoming Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat assembly elections. “I attended the meeting of the Business Advisory Committee and there was no mention of moving any confidence motion during discussions held to finalize the agenda of the house,” he told journalists.
Taking a swipe at the Congress party for creating ruckus in the Assembly, Finance Minister Harpal Cheema at a press conference, said the Congress is clearly working as a ‘B-team of the BJP’ and is working hard to crucify democracy.
Punjab Governor and the AAP government had been at loggerheads over holding the Assembly sessions surrounding the ‘confidence motion’. The AAP wanted to convene the special session on September 22 to bring ‘confidence motion’, following the party’s allegation that attempts were being made to topple its government in Punjab by offering bribes to its legislators by agents of the Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP).
The Governor, however, withdrew the order of summoning a special session, citing the “absence of specific rules” regarding summoning of the Assembly for the ‘confidence motion’ only, this triggered a face-off between the Governor and the government.
Following this, Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann announced to summon the session of the state Assembly on September 27 to discuss ‘various issues pertaining to the state’. Mr. Purohit then sought details of the legislative business for this session, to which the government conveyed “it proposes to take up legislative-government business which inter alia includes burning issues of GST, stubble burning, power scenario, etc. for consideration of the State legislature.” The Governor then gave his accent.