Guwahati, Sep 12: Opposition parties staged a walkout from the Assam Assembly on Tuesday, demanding the constitution of a House committee to inquire into the allegations of illegal sale of food items meant for the public distribution system.
Almost immediately afterwards, Speaker Biswajit Daimary adjourned proceedings for 15 minutes as treasury members took to their feet, demanding an apology from Congress MLA Kamalakhya Dey Purkayastha for raising a slogan denouncing the Assam government.
The ruckus started during a question by another Congress MLA Nurul Huda on food items available under the food and civil supplies department through fair price shops.
State food, public distribution and consumer affairs minister Ranjeet Dass, in his reply, said free rice of varying amounts is being provided to beneficiaries of two schemes under the National Food Security Act, 2013, through his department.
Moreover, one kg ‘atta’ (wheat flour) is also being provided at a minimum price to priority household card holders in 19 districts of the state, he added.
Huda and other Congress members alleged irregularities in wheat flour distribution and urged the Speaker to form a House committee to look into the matter.
As the question hour came to an end, Daimary moved on to the next business on the list without heeding the demand.
This led the Congress MLAs, and the lone CPI(M) and Independent legislators to stage a walkout, while raising slogans in support of a House panel.
As soon as they left the House, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pijush Hazarika and BJP MLA Prasanta Phukan stood up, claiming that Congress’s Purkayastha had raised a slogan denouncing the Assam government.
They demanded that the MLA tender an apology for the words and were unrelenting even when the Speaker said that the slogan would be expunged from proceedings, leading him to adjourn the House for 15 minutes.
When the House re-convened, Deputy Leader of Opposition Rakibul Hussain of the Congress tendered the apology on behalf of Purkayastha, who was also present in the House but kept persisting with the demand for the panel to look into the allegations of ‘atta’ distribution.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Tuesday asserted that no scam has taken place in government recruitment in his tenure, and that he is prepared to order a probe if anyone can cite a single instance of such irregularity.
Replying to a motion moved in the state assembly by the AIUDF, Sarma said about 87,000 jobs have been provided in the last two years, and if the opposition can point to a single undeserving candidate, he will initiate an inquiry.
“Earlier, scams used to be about people buying jobs with cash. This time, it is about people paying money, but not getting the jobs,” he said, referring to instances where aspirants had reportedly paid bribes, but failed to get jobs.
The CM also asserted that no irregularities will take place in recruitment under his tenure.
AIUDF legislator Aminul Islam said though some transparency has been achieved in the process of government recruitment, there were also allegations of financial dealings.
“If anyone is indulging in corruption in the name of giving government jobs, the dispensation should accept it, and assure that such scams don’t happen in the future,” he said.
Meanwhile, Congress’ Kamalakhya Dey Purkayastha cited the recent arrest of some BJP leaders in an alleged cash-for-jobs scam in Assam. (PTI)