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Cong members again walk out of Himachal Pradesh Assembly over suspension issue

Leader of Opposition Mukesh Agnihotri and four other Congress MLAs Harsh Vardhan Chauhan, Satpal Raizada, Sunder Singh and Vinay Kumar were on Friday suspended for the entire Budget session of the Assembly till March 20 after they allegedly manhandled Governor Bandaru Dattatraya.

Congress members walked out of the Himachal Pradesh Assembly for the second consecutive day on Wednesday over the issue of suspension of the party’s five MLAs.

As the suspended Congress MLAs continued their dharna outside the House, Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur justified their suspension and registration of FIR against them.

Leader of Opposition Mukesh Agnihotri and four other Congress MLAs Harsh Vardhan Chauhan, Satpal Raizada, Sunder Singh and Vinay Kumar were on Friday suspended for the entire Budget session of the Assembly till March 20 after they allegedly manhandled Governor Bandaru Dattatraya.

State Congress president Kuldeep Singh Rathore met the five Congress MLAs at their dharna site.

Agnihotri told the media it will be a “black day” in the history of the state Assembly, if the budget is presented on March 6 in the absence of the opposition.

Raising a point of order as soon as the House proceedings started at 11 am, Congress legislator Jagat Singh Negi stated that the proceedings of the special meeting of the Assembly for suspending the MLAs on Friday afternoon were “illegal” as it had been called at a notice of four minutes, which is against the rules.

The MLA said several legislators had already left the Assembly as the House was adjourned till Monday at 2 pm. The notice to the opposition of recalling the special meeting at 12.50 pm was given just four minutes before at 12.46 pm, he added.

It was impossible for the opposition MLAs to reach the Assembly in such a short period, he said, adding they are neither spiderman nor Hanuman that they could reach the House so quickly.

The MLA said opposition members should have been provided the information of recalling the special meeting at least 48 hours before. The five Congress MLAs were suspended in the absence of the Opposition, he added.

The Congress legislator further stated that section 124 of IPC was also included in the FIR registered against the five Congress MLAs on the basis of a complaint submitted by marshals to the speaker.

The MLA wanted a ruling by the speaker on the issue but the speaker stated it may be done after the Question Hour. At this, Congress walked out from the House raising slogans.

The chief minister said Congress members were sitting in the opposition lounge in the Assembly complex when they had been given notice for the special meeting on Friday afternoon.

Thakur said the proceedings of the special meeting continued for about an hour. Had the Congress members any intention to join the proceedings, they would have done so, he added.

Justifying the FIR against the suspended Congress MLAs under section 124 of IPC, Thakur said the case had been registered under this section as per rules on the basis of the complaint by the marshals as everything happened in front of them.

Section 124 of IPC deals with assaulting the President or Governor with intent to compel or restrain the exercise of any lawful power, he added.

The alleged incident had taken place outside the Speaker’s office when the Governor was leaving for the Raj Bhavan after he cut short his address in the House following a ruckus on the opening day of the Budget session.

Speaker Vipin Parmar had also lodged a complaint with police in this regard.

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