Fight breaks out in Gujarat assembly, 3 Congress MLAs suspended
Ahmedabad: Three opposition Congress legislators were suspended after members of the Gujarat legislative assembly on Wednesday shouted and exchanged blows over the deaths of two children in Asaram Ashram at Sabarmati, Ahmedabad.
The Speaker suspended Pratap Dudhat and Ambrish Der for three years each and Baldev Thakor for one year for allegedly physically assaulting other members in the House and in Assembly premises.
Speaker Rajendra Trivedi strongly reprimanded the legislators, calling their act hooliganism, and said the stiff punishment was aimed at setting a deterrent to such behaviour. “I was of the view of suspending the errant legislators for five years but the ruling party appears to be soft and has sought only three years’ suspension,” Trivedi said.
The trouble began when senior Congress legislator from Jamnagar Vikram Madam tried to raise a point of order concerning the deaths of two children in the Asaram Ashram in 2008.
Madam wanted to know whether the government would table the report of Justice D.K. Trivedi Commission ordered to probe the incident. Both the children were from Madam’s constituency.
The Speaker ruled that such points of order could not be raised. Following this, Congress legislators Ambrish Der and Virji Thumar rushed to the well and raised objection with the Speaker. Der questioned the Speaker’s intention, for which he received a warning from the Speaker. Soon, other Congress MLAs also started questioning the Speaker, and chaos prevailed in the House.
A verbal duel between some legislators from BJP and Congress ensued and suddenly Congress legislator Pratap Dudhat was seen rushing towards BJP’s Jagdish Panchal with a microphone, which he then hurled at Panchal, missing him narrowly.
Dudhat’s action created a furore in the House, forcing the Speaker to adjourn the House.
“This is a shameful incident which has never happened in the history of Gujarat assembly. Wrongdoings of Congress MLAs Vikram Madam, Pratap Dudhat and Ambrish Der have been recorded by the CCTV cameras in the House and we are going to request the Speaker to make it accessible to the media,” deputy chief minister Nitin Patel told reporters.
Speaking to reporters, Dudhat alleged that he was being targeted by the treasury benches and that abuses had been hurled at him for over a week.
“The BJP is trying to shift the people’s attention from public issues like the death of children in Asaram Ashram. We, as opposition, have every right to know about such public issues. But they are trying to silence our voices. For the last six to seven days, BJP MLA Jagdish Panchal has been uttering bad words and using foul language against me in the House. Today also, he spoke something bad about my mother which infuriated me and I rushed towards him in a spate of anger,” he alleged.
Panchal denied the charge. “There were women legislators sitting there and I am willing to resign as a legislator if it is proved that I did speak foul words,” he said. “In fact, later when we were out of the House, Congress MLA Baldev Thakor threatened to break my legs.”
Leader of opposition Paresh Dhanani, while calling the incident a black spot in the history of the Gujarat legislature, attempted to put the blame on BJP legislators.
“The treasury benches have been trying to silence the voice of Opposition and as part of their strategy have been instigating our first-time legislators for last eight days. They even threatened them that they would face consequences similar to Haren Pandya (a former home minister who was killed in broad daylight in Ahmedabad),” Dhanani said, adding that he would request the Speaker to make video footage of the incident public for people to see.
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