Cong attack on minister Fauja Singh Sarari rocks Punjab Assembly again

  • | Friday | 30th September, 2022

Chandigarh, Sep 30 (PTI) The Punjab Assembly witnessed noisy scenes for a second straight day Friday as Congress MLAs again sought the dismissal and arrest of Cabinet minister Fauja Singh Sarari over an audio clip in which he was purportedly discussing ways to "trap" some contractors to "extort" money from them. They also sought a reply from Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann, but Vidhan Sabha Speaker Kultar Singh Sandhwan pulled the Congress legislators up as they entered the Well of the House and raised slogans against the AAP government. Amid the uproar, three bills -- the Punjab State Vigilance Commission (Repeal) Bill, 2022; the Punjab Village Common Lands (Regulations) Amendment Bill, 2022; and the Punjab Goods and Services Tax (Amendment) Bill, 2022 -- were passed in the House. As soon as the chief minister arrived in the House on the third day of the assembly session, Congress MLAs, led by Leader of Opposition (LoP) Partap Singh Bajwa, rose from their seats and demanded a statement from Mann on the alleged clip. The protesting MLAs trooped into the Well of the House, shouted slogans against the government and sought Sarari"s dismissal and arrest. The Punjab Assembly on Thursday too had witnessed a ruckus over the Sarari issue. Earlier this month, an audio clip of a purported conversation between Sarari and his former close aide allegedly discussing ways to "trap" some food grain transport contractors through officials "to extort money" from them surfaced. After the CM tabled the Punjab State Vigilance Commission (Repeal) Bill, 2022, Speaker Sandhwan asked the protesting legislators to go back to their seats and discuss the Bill. But they stuck to the demand. CM Mann slammed them for "wasting" the time of the House by disrupting proceedings. Mann criticised the Congress MLAs for calling the Speaker "nakli" (fake), saying these legislators had worked with "nakli" chief minister Amarinder Singh, also calling him a "BJP man". Mann also took a jibe at the BJP, asking Congress leaders to join the saffron party in holding parallel sessions outside the Vidhan Sabha. The AAP MLAs also rose from their seats and urged the Speaker to take action against the Congress MLAs.  Ministers Aman Arora and Kuldeep Dhaliwal strongly condemned the MLAs for stalling the proceedings. Dhaliwal dared Congress MLAs to face CM Mann in the House and speak on Punjab issues, while Arora said they have got nothing to discuss and are "doing a drama" in the House. Finance Minister Harpal Singh Cheema, who tabled the Punjab GST (Amendment) Bill, 2022, hit out at the previous Congress government for "not making any effort" to increase tax revenue. He said the AAP government was making efforts to raise revenue collections and plug leakages. The speaker"s plea to the Congress legislators not to disrupt proceedings of the House went unheeded. He said Rs 70-80 lakh is spent every day on running the session but some members of the Opposition wasted two days of the House. The Speaker said he was pained at the conduct of the Congress MLAs and added that important issues of the state could have been discussed in the House had they not disrupted the proceedings.Earlier during the Zero Hour, Congress MLA Sukhpal Singh Khaira alleged he was not being being allowed to speak, leading to an exchange of words between him and the Speaker.Khaira rushed to the Well of the House to register his protest as the Speaker told him nobody could dictate the Chair.During the Zero Hour, Congress leader and LoP Partap Bajwa asked the government when will it dismiss and arrest Sarari.He also raised the issues of crop damage because of rain, "non-payment" of incentive for direct seeding of rice, and high sand and gravel rates affecting the construction industry.Bajwa also alleged Opposition members were blacked out during the live telecast of the Vidhan Sabha.AAP MLA Kulwant Singh Pandori sought a resolution demanding early elections to the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, while Congress MLA Sandeep Jakahr questioned the government for "not yet releasing" Rs 32 crore to Fazilka district to compensate for the losses due to the 2020 floods.Punjab Congress chief Amrinder Singh Raja Warring raised the issue of non-payment of salaries to Anganwadi workers in the state. Amid the din, Punjab Revenue Minister Bram Shanker Jimpa informed the House that a special "girdwari" to assess the crop loss because of the recent rains was ordered on September 28. He was replying to a calling attention notice of Congress leaders Partap Singh Bajwa, Raj Kumar Chabbewal and Vikramjit Singh Chaudhary to draw the attention towards the demand of farmers for compensation for crops damaged by rain. PTI CHS VSD VSD TIR TIR

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