Chandigarh, Aug 28 (PTI) A one-day Punjab Assembly session was held on Friday under the COVID-19 shadow with the House passing a resolution rejecting the farm ordinances promulgated by the Centre, while two Congress MLAs tested positive for the disease.
The two legislators, Nirmal Singh and Kulbir Singh Zira, tested positive for coronavirus after the session, following which Chief Minister Amarinder Singh quarantined himself for seven days.
The House paid tributes to the soldiers killed in Ladakh's Galwan valley and COVID warriors. It also passed seven bills. However, other businesses like the Question Hour and calling attention notices were not taken up.
The 12th session of the 15th Punjab Assembly began at 11 am and lasted till around 1:45 pm. The session was adjourned for one hour after the obituary references.
Sixty-one legislators were present in the 117-member House, where strict protocols were put in place in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Forty-eight of the 61 MLAs in the House were from the ruling Congress, five from the AAP, four AAP rebels and two each from the BJP and the Lok Insaaf Party.
Members of the Shiromani Akali Dal did not attend the session and a few legislators of the Aam Aadmi Party were not allowed to enter the assembly as they were primary contacts of COVID-19 positive MLAs.
The one-day session was convened amid the COVID-19 pandemic as it is a constitutional requirement to hold a session within six months of the previous assembly session.
The House passed a resolution rejecting the farm ordinances and proposed electricity bill promulgated by the Centre.
Chief Minister Amarinder Singh moved the resolution which was supported by the opposition Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and Lok Insaaf Party (LIP). However, it was opposed by the BJP.
The chief minister said the assembly was seriously concerned about apprehensions caused by the ordinances related to the farm sector.
These ordinances are the Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Ordinance, 2020, the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Ordinance, 2020, and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020.
He described these ordinances as a 'direct encroachment upon the functions of the states and against the spirit of cooperative federalism enshrined in the Constitution” and said it will promote distress sale. These ordinances would spell “economic ruin” for the farming sector of Punjab especially those 70 per cent having less than five acres land, he said.
'Now they want to do away with mandis. If this happens our farmers will be ruined. We cannot accept these Ordinances,' the chief minister said. AAP MLA Baldev Singh raised the issue of alleged multi-crore post-matric SC scholarship scam appeared in a section of media and sought the resignation of Social Justice Minister Sadhu Singh Dharamsot. LIP legislator Simarjeet Singh Bains also raised slogans against the minister and went to the well of the House.
Dharamsot, however, rejected the charge and said he was willing to face any inquiry.
Some AAP MLAs, including Leader of Opposition Harpal Singh Cheema, Deputy leader of the party Sarvjit Kaur Manuke, Aman Arora and Meet Hayer, reached the assembly in PPE kits.
Cheema, Hayer, Manuke and Baldev Singh held a protest outside the assembly alleging that despite having negative coronavirus reports they were not allowed to attend the session.
SAD leader Bikram Singh Majithia claimed that the police was posted outside the residences of Akali legislators to thwart them from coming out to attend the session.
'Murder of democracy by Cong govt. Now police force posted outside SAD MLAs' houses to prevent them from attending 1 hr assembly session. Such kind of oppression seen for first even though SAD announced it will act responsibly. We appeal to Governor, Pb to intervene & restore order,' tweeted Majithia. PTI CHS VSD DPB