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Rajasthan assembly Budget session begins on stormy note

3 RLP MLAs suspended, marshalled out

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JAIPUR, Jan 23 (PTI): The Rajasthan assembly’s Budget session began on Monday with the governor’s address amid an Opposition protest over incidents of paper leaks, as Speaker C P Joshi suspended three agitating RLP MLAs for the day and ordered them to be marshalled out.

In his address, Governor Kalraj Mishra highlighted the achievements and progress made during the four years of the Congress government, including steps taken to curb incidents of paper leaks.

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Soon after the House had assembled, BJP MLA and Leader of Opposition Gulab Chand Kataria raised the issue of paper leaks, following which the opposition members started an uproar. They also raised issues related to farmers.

Rashtriya Loktantrik Party MLAs stormed the Well of the House carrying placards demanding a CBI inquiry into paper leak cases even as the governor continued his address for sometime. The BJP MLAs also protested in the Well of the house.

CPI(M) MLA Balwan Poonia, who had supported the Ashok Gehlot government when it was going through a political crisis on account of a rebellion by former deputy chief minister Sachin Pilot, also protested in the Well with the other members of the opposition.

The governor read the speech for some time and later, the address was tabled. The House was adjourned for half an hour for the departure of the governor.

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After the house reassembled, newly elected member of the house Anil Kumar Sharma of the Congress was administered the oath of office. During the oath-taking exercise, RLP MLAs Pukhraj, Narayan Beniwal and Indira Devi continued their protest in the Well of the House while other Opposition members sat quietly.

When his instructions were ignored by the RLP MLAs, the Speaker ordered the marshal to take the three MLAs out of the House. He expelled them from the house for the rest of the day.

After the oath of the newly elected MLA, the Speaker informed the House that the governor has returned the Criminal Laws (Rajasthan Amendment) Bill, 2018, passed in March 9, 2018, because the proposed provisions to amend the punishment for rape and gang rape were no longer required as the Centre has already made provisions.

The Bill was kept reserved by the then governor for the presidential accord and later, the state government presented grounds to withdraw it.

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Condemning the opposition furore, chief minister Ashok Gehlot told reporters outside the House that the governor’s speech traditionally is about the government’s achievements but BJP leaders have no guts to listen to it, which is why they created a disturbance.

The governor’s address mentioned the work done by the Ashok Gehlot-led government in all the sectors, including health, education and agriculture.

“Rajasthan has set a record by achieving an economic growth rate of 11.04 per cent in the year 2021-22. Achieving the second place in the country with a double-digit GDP growth rate shows the efficient financial management of our government and the overall and inclusive development of Rajasthan,” the governor said.

“In the last four years dedicated to public service, our government has set an example in the country by doing remarkable work in all sectors, including education, health, social security, agriculture and farmers’ welfare, animal husbandry, women and child development, youth welfare, basic development, energy and industry,” he added.

On paper leak cases, Mishra said the government was working with a zero tolerance policy and had made strict provisions, including bringing the Rajasthan Public Examination (Prevention of Unfair Means) (Amendment) Bill-2022.

The Eastern Rajasthan Canal Project, for which the state government has been demanding national status, also found mention in the address.

“Our government is continuously making efforts at the central government level to declare this project as a national project,” it stated.

Mishra said the health of the citizens of the state was the topmost priority of the government.

“The government is continuously making efforts to free the common man from the worry of heavy expenditure on treatment of diseases in this era of inflation. With this in view, our government provided free medicines and check-up facilities to the poor,” he said.

Terming the Chiranjeevi Health Insurance Scheme as a revolutionary initiative, the governor said 88 per cent of the people in the state have health insurance.

The address also mentioned that due to the efforts of the state government, the average time taken for investigation of cases related to women has come down from 129 days to 72 days.

The House paid tributes to former West Bengal governor Keshari Nath Tripathi, former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mulayam Singh Yadav, former MLAs Bhanwar Lal Sharma and Rajendra Kumar Bhartiya, and the victims of the Jodhpur cylinder blast incident.

The House then adjourned for the day.

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