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Day 3: After battle of placards Lok Sabha adjourned again

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New Delhi: The Lok Sabha was on Thursday virtually turned into an arena for placard battles between the Congress and the BJP, forcing Speaker Sumitra Mahajan to first adjourn the house till noon and later for the day. lok_sabha_india_hd_images_computer_background

The first two days of parliament’s monsoon session, which began on July 21, were also washed out due to several adjournments over the demand of the Congress and other opposition parties for the resignation of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and two BJP chief ministers.

The tussle between the treasury and opposition benches over the opposition demand escalated on Thursday as well, as a Bharatiya Janata Party member moved a privilege motion against Robert Vadra, son-in-law of Congress president Sonia Gandhi, over his comments in a Facebook post.

As soon as the house met after the adjournment till noon, parliamentarians from the Congress and other parties were up on their feet, demanding action from the government over their demand for the resignation of the BJP leaders.

Several Congress members moved near the Speaker’s podium, carrying placards targeted at Sushma Swaraj and raising questions over the “silence” of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The BJP members too rose from their seats and moved into the aisle, carrying placards that targeted the Congress on corruption.

Congress members occupied the space close the Speaker’s podium and raised slogans. At one point, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Rajiv Pratap Rudy was seen seemingly telling Congress member Deepender Hooda to give some space to BJP members near the podium.

BJP members stayed put for a while in the aisle but went back to their seats after an indication from Home Minister Rajnath Singh. However, they continued to show placards.

In the ruckus, BJP’s Prahlad Joshi spoke on his privilege motion against Vadra though his voice was largely inaudible.

Papers were laid in the House amid din as the Speaker asked members not to show placards.

She said some members wanted to speak, but the din continued amid slogan-shouting by Congress members.

“If you do not want to run the House, I will adjourn it,” she said and adjourned the house for the day.

Later, Joshi said he had moved the privilege motion against Vadra.

“In his (Vadra’s) Facebook post, he has belittled the image of parliament. That’s why I have moved the privilege motion against him,” said Joshi, BJP parliamentarian from Dharwad in Karnataka.

Earlier, the House was adjourned till noon after the Congress-led opposition raised a ruckus over the Vyapam recruitment scam and the controversy over BJP leaders’ association with former Indian Premier League chief Lalit Modi.

Within 10 minutes of the commencement of the Lower House’s proceedings, several members from the opposition parties took out placards and raised slogans.

Amid the din, the Speaker adjourned the House till noon. BJP member Arjun Ram Meghwal also spoke on his notice for a privilege motion.

The Congress and opposition parties are demanding the resignations of Sushma Swaraj and Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje over their alleged help to Lalit Modi, who is facing an Enforcement Directorate investigation.

They are demanding the resignation of Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan over the Vyapam scam.

(IANS)

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Punjab’s Aam Aadmi Party and Its Political Self Goals

Each one of the top leaders in the AAP Punjab unit is on its own journey

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Punjab's Aam Aadmi Party Is In Confusion, Due To Political Self Goals
Punjab's Aam Aadmi Party Is In Confusion, Due To Political Self Goals, Flickr

For a political party that was taking a serious shot at coming to power in Punjab less than two years ago, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) appears to have gone wayward.

Despite the electorate in Punjab reposing trust in the party by making it the principal opposition in the first ever assembly polls that it contested in February last year, the party leadership in Punjab and in Delhi have brought it to a new political low with a series of flip-flops and self-goals.

The AAP, which has 20 seats in the 117-member state assembly, relegated the formidable political alliance of the Shiromani Akali Dal and BJP to a humiliating third slot but is fast losing its votebank in the state.

In recent by-elections, be it for Lok Sabha or assembly seats, the AAP candidates have not only fared badly but had to face humiliation by even losing their security deposits.

In the Shahkot assembly seat bypoll last month, the AAP candidate got a mere 1,900 votes.

Each one of the top leaders in the AAP Punjab unit is on its own journey while the Delhi leadership of the party, including AAP national convener and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Punjab in-charge Manish Sisodia, show wariness, indifference and even suspicion about the Punjab leaders.

Senior AAP leader and Leader of Opposition in the state assembly Sukhpal Singh Khaira is known to shoot off his mouth on every matter. His recent comments justifying the ‘Referendum 2020’ propped up by foreign-based radical elements who are demanding a separate Sikh homeland, or Khalistan, has sparked a new controversy for him and the AAP.

Khaira, a former Congressman, has left the party embarrassed on earlier occasions as well.

Just about two years back, the AAP was riding high on popularity in Punjab and many believed it was all set to form its first full-fledged state government.

That was not to be Kejriwal and his core group of leaders seem to have lost interest in Punjab affairs for now. Kejriwal’s apology to senior Akali Dal leader and former cabinet minister Bikram Singh Majithia earlier this year, which happened without even consulting the Punjab leadership of the party, led to resignations within the party with the cadres on the ground feeling disappointed.

AAP has scrapped the list of its Donors, leading to its own volunteers launching a Chanda Bandh Satyagraha against their own party.
AAP has scrapped the list of its Donors, leading to its own volunteers launching a Chanda Bandh Satyagraha against their own party.

AAP Punjab unit president and MP Bhagwant Mann, who has had his own string of controversies earlier, and co-president Aman Arora, resigned from their posts after Kejriwal’s sudden apology.

Kejriwal and other AAP leaders, in the run-up to the 2017 assembly polls, had openly accused Majithia of patronising the drugs mafia in Punjab. They even called him a “drug lord”.

When Majithia went to court in a defamation case against the AAP leadership, the Delhi leaders chickened out and Kejriwal wrote an apology letter to Majithia.

Offering apologies and doing voluntary service (kar seva) to atone for political sins is nothing new for AAP leaders.

The ‘Youth Manifesto’ of AAP, released before the assembly polls, carried a photograph of ‘Harmandir Sahib’, the holiest and most revered Sikh shrine of Sikh religion, with an image of a broom, the AAP’s party symbol. This led to a religious uproar in Sikh dominated Punjab.

Kejriwal and other leaders washed utensils at the Golden Temple complex to “atone” for the political and religious faus pax.

AAP leader Ashish Khetan compared the same manifesto to religious scriptures like Granth Sahib, the Bible and the Gita. The AAP had to again seek forgiveness for this.

The AAP’s stand on sharing of river waters varies in Delhi and Punjab, leaving the party embarrassed at times.

Chanda Bandh Satyagraha back in Delhi after successful Campaign in Punjab, Feb 24th 2017
Chanda Bandh Satyagraha back in Delhi after successful Campaign in Punjab, Feb 24th 2017

The electorate in Punjab, which gave four seats to AAP (out of 13 Lok Sabha seats), has been left disaapointed. Two of the AAP MPs continue to be suspended from the party for the last three years.

Also read: Dogfight in Aam Aadmi Party : The audio clip of Kumar Vishwas reveals the party is no longer for principles but for personal aspirations

If AAP is to revive its position in Punjab, its leadership — in Punjab and in Delhi — would have to take drastic steps to stop the erosion of its base. Otherwise, the party would end up being a one-time wonder. (IANS)