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Opposition stages walkout in Manipur Assembly

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SHILLONG, Feb 27: The Opposition in the Meghalaya Legislative Assembly on Tuesday staged a walkout as a mark of protest against voting on demand for grants before the finance minister’s reply on the budget discussion.

Raising a point of order during the last day of the budget session, opposition Congress legislator from Umsning, Celestine Lyngdoh said the statement of the chief minister Conrad K Sangma, who is also in charge of finance, that voting on demand for grants that was done on February 24 was for supplementary demand is absolutely wrong since the supplementary demands were done on February 21.

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“If we say voting for demand for grants can be done before the finance minister’s reply then his reply at the end of the budget discussion becomes redundant,” he said while adding, “I want this House to follow the rules. If the House is not following the rules, what is the point for us to sit here and listen.”

“If they have voted for the main budget for this year February 24 then we have crossed beyond the provisions of the rules,” he further stated.

Lyngdoh’s raising the point of order was supported by the All India Trinamool Congress (or TMC) and Voice of the People Party (VPP).

Giving his ruling, speaker Thomas A Sangma said, “It was not my intention to say this House has wasted its time. Actually because of the time constraint as time is limited so I ask not to say unnecessary things and to come straight to the point. However, I stand corrected and the words wasting of time will be expunged.”

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“However, to the second issue the calendar has been finalised in the BAC that has been placed in the House on the first day when the house sat for business on February 16 and it was approved by this House. As per rule, suspension of the rules can be moved by the parliamentary affairs but, as I have already given the ruling, it is final,” he stated.

Not satisfied with the ruling of the Speaker, members of the three opposition political parties staged a walkout in protest against failure of the government to rectify the mistake.

“The ruling is not very clear, we are not satisfied so the opposition members have no role to sit here and waste their time (since) the reply of the finance minister is redundant,” Lyngdoh said while leading the members out of the House. Defending the treasury bench, deputy chief minister in-charge parliamentary affairs Prestone Tynsong said, “Your (Speaker) ruling is very clear. First day itself we have placed this (calendar) in the BAC and the House has agreed.”

When Mukul Sangma, while standing to join the rest of the opposition members stated that the walkout was as a token of protest and disapproval, Tynsong said, “Then the opposition is making a fool of themselves. This calendar has been approved by the house on the first day of the session. How can we again go back.”

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Terming the opposition’s action as unfortunate, chief minister Conrad K Sangma said the opposition members are making issues out of something where they themselves were part of the decision when the House accepted the calendar proposed by the BAC.

He also accused the opposition members of not wanting to listen to his reply on the budget discussion after seeing the kind of work that is happening in the state.

“From what I understand they are finding reasons not to be here to listen to the reply, which is unfortunate as I said these are very important matters. A budget speech and reply would be focusing on many aspects nonetheless it is their decision and the entire state is watching,” the CM stated.

Earlier while supporting the issue, former chief minister Mukul Sangma said, “We need to correct things. I think correcting things is very crucial otherwise what is wrong will be considered as right and what is abnormal will be considered as normal which is dangerous and should not be a precedent.”

Echoing similar concern, VPP legislator from Nongkrem Ardent M Basaiawmoit said, “We expect that there will be a cooperation from all stakeholders so that we can maintain the highest decorum…we expect that the chair would admit its mistake and ensure this will not happen in the future.” (NNN)

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