Iron chain protest in Himachal Pradesh assembly sparks controversy


Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu has spoken out against the use of iron chains as a form of protest in the state’s Vidhan Sabha, calling it a violation of the Assembly’s dignity and sanctity. The remarks were made in response to protests by members of the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) outside the Assembly and the CM’s chamber in the Assembly Secretariat. The protests were staged in response to the government’s decision to stop the release of MLA funds, citing a fiscal crunch.
The third day of the ongoing Budget session of the Assembly saw the BJP members, among others, creating a ruckus inside and outside the House over the MLA fund issue. Speaking to the media, CM Sukhu called the disruption of proceedings “unfortunate” and noted that such a protest had never taken place in the Assembly’s 75-year history.
Sukhu also accused former chief minister and the present Leader of the Opposition, Jairam Thakur, of instigating the ruckus inside the House instead of holding a meeting with him on the issue. The CM urged the opposition to be mindful of the sanctity of the Assembly and to find more appropriate ways of protesting.
Earlier on March 15, BJP MLAs staged a walkout on the opening day of the Budget session, claiming dissatisfaction with the CM’s reply on the issue of MLA funds being stopped. Sukhu had told the House that each citizen of the state was in debt of Rs 1 lakh in his reply to an adjournment motion brought by BJP members for a discussion on the MLA fund issue. The motion was rejected by the Speaker, leading to the walkout.
Jairam Thakur, the Leader of the Opposition, expressed disappointment with the situation and noted that this was the first time in the Assembly’s history that the opposition had staged a walkout on the opening day of the Budget session. The opening day of the Budget session saw a ruckus as the opposition brought an adjournment motion under Rule 67, seeking a discussion on the Congress government not releasing the last installment of the MLA funds.
The use of iron chains as a form of protest is a rare occurrence in Indian politics and has drawn criticism from many quarters. As the Budget session continues, the government and the opposition will need to find a way to address the MLA fund issue and ensure that the Assembly’s dignity and decorum are upheld.