High drama in Delhi Assembly

NEW DELHI, MARCH 17. High drama was witnessed in the Delhi Assembly today as all the Bharatiya Janata Party members along with an Independent were removed from the House by the marshals on instruction of the Speaker, Prem Singh, after they trooped into the well of the House, shouted slogans and disrupted the proceedings demanding dismissal of the Sheila Dikshit Government on charges of corruption. The members later sat on dharna inside the Old Secretariat complex and courted arrest.

The BJP members who had two days ago disrupted the Lieutenant-Governor's address to the House on the opening day of the Budget Session and had yesterday successfully lobbied for a discussion on corruption, again tried to hold the House to ransom. No sooner did the House assemble, the Members were on their feet raising slogans against the Government, which they claimed had lost its mandate to rule after 82 persons had been caught on camera taking bribe in the Sales Tax Department.

Raising slogans and holding aloft banners, the members sought an adjournment of proceedings. In the wake of the disruption, the Speaker first adjourned the House for around 10 minutes. But when the House re-assembled and the BJP members accompanied by Independent MLA, Ranvir Singh Kharab continued their protest, the Speaker had had enough.

After repeatedly requesting the members to resume their seats and vacate the well of the House, he ordered their removal by the marshals. The Opposition members were subsequently removed by force from the House. However, even on returning to the House later the members led by the Leader of the Opposition, Jagdish Mukhi, and the Delhi BJP president, Harsh Vardhan, continued to accuse the Chief Minister and her family of indulging in corrupt practices.

Mr Mukhi said by failing to satisfactorily respond to the allegations of corruption which had been levelled against the Government during the past two days and by shielding the culprits, "the Sheila Dikshit regime had only shown that it was itself involved in corrupt practices".

The BJP leaders said the charges made by them about rampant corruption and the instances cited by pertaining to the Sonia Vihar water treatment plant, privatisation of water and undervaluation of Delhi Jal Board properties, loss on account of privatisation of power, faulty posting policy and shady deals in purchase of computers for schools stand vindicated as the Government has not been able to deny any of them.

The Opposition members then sat on a dharna near the fountain in the Assembly premises and later courted arrest. All the while they kept shouting slogan like "Chief Minister's Office is a den of corruption" and "Fight corruption or quit office".

The agitating MLAs were then taken to the Civil Lines police station nearby from where they were released soon after.

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