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Sleeping on Couches and Mattress, AAP MLAs Spend Night Inside Punjab Assembly Over Farm Laws

AAP MLAs sleeping inside Punjab assembly over farm laws. (Tweeted by ANI)

AAP MLAs sleeping inside Punjab assembly over farm laws. (Tweeted by ANI)

Slamming the Punjab government, the opposition had earlier sat in the Well of the House till late evening after which they moved to the gallery outside the assembly, but confined themselves within the assembly complex building demanding copies of the Bill which the state's Congress government is introducing on Tuesday.

Protesting over newly enacted farm laws, the Aam Aadmi Party MLAs spent the night inside the Punjab assembly on Monday. The legislators were seen sleeping on sofas and mattresses as they staged a dharna for not tabling a Bill to counter the Centre's new laws on the first day of a special assembly session.

Slamming the Punjab government, the opposition had earlier sat in the Well of the House till late evening after which they moved to the gallery outside the assembly, but confined themselves within the assembly complex building demanding copies of the Bill which the state's Congress government is introducing on Tuesday.

Earlier, Finance and acting Parliamentary Affairs Minister Manpreet Singh Badal said the state government is consulting constitutional experts on the issue of legislation to counter the new farm laws and added copies of various bills to be tabled during the two-day session will be given to the opposition parties by the evening. Even after the adjournment of the session for the day on Monday afternoon, AAP legislators continued their dharna, demanding copies of the Bill to counter the legislation enacted by the Centre.

Late in the night, Leader of Opposition and AAP leader Harpal Cheema said, We will sit here through the night and continue the protest as we are yet get copies of this and other Bills to be tabled during the session. AAP will support the legislation against the farm laws but the government should have given us its copies. We haven't got copies of other bills as well. How can our legislators discuss and debate important issues? Cheema said.

As the assembly area had to be sanitised and sealed overnight in view of the Covid-19 situation, the AAP MLAs including few women legislators of the party were asked to shift outside the House. Earlier, the AAP members were persuaded by the Speaker, Deputy Speaker and Vidhan Sabha officials to end their protest, but they remained adamant on their demand.

Notably, four years ago when Congress was in opposition in Punjab, their party MLAs had spent the night in the Punjab assembly seeking a debate on the no-confidence motion against the ruling SAD-BJP combine, which was defeated by voice vote, and had refused to vacate the House till the government gave an assurance that a discussion will be allowed on it. Meanwhile, in the State Assembly, Shiromani Akali Dal said the Bill to counter the Centre's farm laws should have been introduced on Monday itself.

A delegation of the party met Speaker Rana KP Singh in the evening and objected to not getting copies of the Bills to be tabled in the assembly. The SAD leaders termed it a "murder of democracy".

The two-day special assembly session began with obituary references as Chief Minister Amarinder Singh led the House in paying homage to the farmers who lost their lives during the ongoing agitation against the farm laws. Amritsar East MLA Navjot Singh Sidhu attended the assembly session for the first time since his resignation from the state Cabinet last year.

SAD MLAs rode tractors to reach the Vidhan Sabha in protest against the farm laws. They tore copies of the Centre's farm laws. AAP MLAs staged a protest outside the assembly complex wearing black capes as they tore and burnt copies of the farm laws.


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