Ruckus in Himachal assembly over graft cases against CM

Dharamsala, Dec 20 (IANS) The Himachal Pradesh assembly on Tuesday witnessed unruly scenes as members of the opposition BJP demanded debate on the ongoing corruption cases against Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh.

After over half-hour of verbal slugfest between the treasury and opposition benches, Speaker B.B.L. Butail adjourned the house for 15 minutes.

Earlier as the house assembled in the morning, Bharatiya Janata Party members Suresh Bhardwaj, Rajeev Bindal and Ravinder Ravi got to their feet and sought a debate on the graft cases against Virbhadra Singh.

They said they had already given separate notices to the Speaker for the debate.

Speaker Butail, however, refused to allow them to speak on the issue as the matter is sub judice.

“We are not allowed to discuss the issues that are pending in the court,” he said.

This agitated the BJP members, who walked up to the Speaker’s podium, raised slogans against the Chief Minister and disrupted the proceedings of the house.

Members of the Congress party also, in the presence of Virbhadra Singh, started raising slogans against the BJP-led central government’s decision to demonetise high-denomination currency notes.

Industries Minister Mukesh Agnihotri took the lead from the treasury benches to pacify the BJP members.

Following the pandemonium, Butail adjourned the house.

After the house re-assembled in the absence of the Chief Minister, who left for New Delhi, the BJP members again demanded debate on the issue and rushed to the well of the house and disrupted the proceedings again by shouting slogans.

Despite repeated requests by the Speaker, they refused to relent.

Amid the ruckus, Butail started the house proceedings. But after a few minutes, he adjourned the house for the day.

Butail told reporters that it was “unfortunate” that the assembly proceedings were disrupted.

He said the BJP members were demanding debate on the corruption cases against the Chief Minister under Rule 67.

“Under the Rule 67, issues of national exigency like natural disaster or war are admitted only when the government fails to respond,” he told IANS.

Butail indicated that action could be initiated against those who are deliberately indulging in disrupting the proceedings of the house.

The five-day winter session of the state assembly began here on Monday.