Himachal legislator sits on Speaker’s chair, suspended from house

Dharamsala, Dec 21 (IANS) An opposition BJP legislator in Himachal Pradesh on Wednesday found a unique way of registering the party’s protest in the state assembly by sitting on the Speaker’s chair in his absence.

Later, he was suspended from the house along with two others for the rest of the session for the ‘unparliamentary’ act.

As the house re-assembled after 15 minutes of adjournment after question hour, BJP’s Suresh Bhardwaj reached the podium of Speaker B.B.L. Butail and sat on his chair.

As he was about to sit on the chair, the Speaker reached the house. His marshal informed Bhardwaj about the arrival of the Speaker; however, the legislator still went ahead.

Bhardwaj, who is house presiding officer, announced the adjournment of the house for the day. At that time, Congress legislators and Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh were also present in the house.

After this, the BJP members led by Leader of Opposition Prem Kumar Dhumal stood up on their seats and left the house after raising slogans.

The Chief Minister described the act of Bhardwaj, the Chief Whip of the BJP’s state unit, against parliamentary norms and demanded action against him.

He said in his long political career he has never seen such an act that “is condemnable”.

“It has happened at the instance and in the presence of Prem Kumar Dhumal,” Singh said.

Revenue Minister Kaul Singh said Bhardwaj was not supposed to preside over the house in the absence of the Speaker as Deputy Speaker Jagat Singh Negi was present in the house at that point in time.

Describing the act as unfortunate, Speaker Butail said some members were not following the house rules.

“I think they should be given orientation to know the parliamentary rules,” he said.

Later, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Mukesh Agnihotri brought a resolution, seeking suspension of membership of three BJP members — Bhardwaj, former Minister Rajeev Bindal and Randhir Sharma.

He said action should be initiated against Bhardwaj for sitting on the Speaker’s chair and against two others for creating a ruckus near the Speaker.

The house unanimously adopted the resolution in the absence of the BJP members and suspended the three for the rest of the session for misconduct.

The BJP legislators have been creating pandemonium for the last three days ever since the winter session began here on December 19.

As the house assembled in the morning, the BJP raised objections over the listing of a debate initiated by the Congress over the impact of demonetisation.