Chaotic start in Himachal budget session, BJP stages walk out


The budget session of the Himachal Pradesh Assembly started on a stormy note on Tuesday as the opposition BJP staged a walkout, demanding the release of the last installment of the MLA Local Area Development (LAD) fund, for which nine legislators of the saffron party had given an adjournment motion.
Pandemonium prevailed in the House as members of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the ruling Congress were involved in heated exchanges. The legislators of the saffron party subsequently walked out of the House, shouting “vidhayak nidhi jari karo”.
Immediately after the obituary references to former state minister Mansa Ram, BJP’s Vipin Parmar urged the chair to admit the adjournment motion to discuss the release of the MLA LAD funds.
“The previous government had made budgetary provision for the fund, and three installments amounting to Rs 1.5 crore were released. But the present government has not released the last installment of Rs 50 lakh,” Parmar said, adding that it was the chief minister’s new “gift” to the people of the hill state.
Industries and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Harshwardhan Chauhan said the adjournment notice was given in the morning and is under consideration. He said the financial condition of the state is not a secret and that its debt liability currently stands at Rs 75,000 crore. Deputy Chief Minister Mukesh Agnihotri said the current government inherited a debt liability of Rs 75,000 crore, of which loans worth Rs 27,000 crore were raised during the tenure of the previous government, besides liabilities of Rs 11,000 crore pertaining to the payment of arrears to employees. Agnihotri said despite the financial crunch, the Congress would fulfill its 10 guarantees given to the people of the state in the run-up to the last Assembly polls.
Leader of the Opposition Jai Ram Thakur said it was a matter of prestige for the MLAs and added that the chief minister, who used to talk about the MLAs’ rights earlier, has changed his stance now. Recalling that the Congress government in Himachal Pradesh had opened 21 colleges ahead of the 2017 Assembly polls, the former chief minister said the state’s loan liability rose from Rs 27,000 crore to Rs 48,000 crore during the Congress regime from 2012 to 2017. Chief Minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu said 920 institutions were opened by the BJP government at the end of its term without any budgetary provision or staff.