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House fire at Speaker

Ranchi, Aug. 22: Every Opposition member in the Assembly today had his own agenda, but united, they succeeded in stalling the functioning of the House — undeterred by even a live telecast of the House proceedings — and compelled Speaker Inder Singh Namdhari to allow discussions only on specific issues.

They even “pulled up” Namdhari for his remark in public recently that home minister Sudesh Mahto “patronised” criminals.

Soon after the government’s replies to call attention notices were over, Leader of Opposition Sudhir Mahto urged the Speaker for the home minister’s reply on “burning issues” like the police lathicharge on para-teachers yesterday and the tabling of the VD Ram Committee report on acts of omissions and commissions by former Hazaribagh SP Deepak Verma.

But when Namdhari insisted he had a different agenda after question hour, it “infuriated” them. The Opposition rushed to the Well, raising slogans. They said the home minister was to give his replies during the debate on the supplementary budget yesterday but chose to stay away.

The Speaker adjourned the House for 10 minutes. He even invited them to his chamber to work out an amicable solution. But the Opposition was adamant, forcing Namdhari to adjourn proceedings till lunch.

Sudesh Mahto denied the police lathi-charged the para-teachers. He, however, admitted the police used “force” to disperse the “unruly mob”. He also denied he was absent in the Assembly during the debate on the supplementary budget. “I was listening to the proceedings over microphone. I had come prepared with my replies, but no one raised the issue,” he said.

Post-lunch, the Speaker again called the Opposition members to his chamber, but found no response.

The House assembled nearly half an hour late and Sudhir Mahto placed a “charter of demands”. The Speaker turned it down, agreeing to allow discussions only on “specific subjects”. The home minister was not present.

Namdhari said he admitted that the VD Ram Committee report ought to be tabled. “But what can I do if the government is not doing so' The Assembly can’t force the government,” he pleaded.

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