| Opposition MLAs protest against the government at the Assembly on Friday. Picture by Deepak Kumar |
RJD MLAs on Friday staged a walkout in protest against Ashwini Kumar Choubey’s reply to an Opposition legislator’s query.
The MLAs also threatened to boycott proceedings if the health minister spoke again.
The argument ensued after RJD MLA Akharul Islam Shahin asked why the government was unable to build an additional primary health centre (PHC) at his constituency in Samastipur despite availability of plot. The minister replied: “We need at least 15,000sqft to build the additional PHC.”
The MLA asked Choubey if legislators had to be members of district committee, to raise such issues.
“I am surprised that the MLA does not know that all legislators are members of the 20-point programme committee in districts and they can raise such issues,” the minister retorted. This led to angry replies from the RJD benches with the minister asking them to sit down.
Even when Speaker Uday Narayan Chaudhary tried to intervene, Choubey refused to give way. “I am replying to the question by the MLA. They (RJD MLAs) should listen”, the minister said. When parliamentary affairs minister Bijendra Prasad Yadav tried to mediate, Choubey asked his ministerial colleague to sit down. “It is a question for me. I will deal with it,” he said.
For a few moments, the din in the House was so loud that nobody could hear what was being said. One heard an RJD MLA demanding the removal of the minister from the Assembly. The minister was seen making angry gestures at the RJD bench. Normalcy was restored after RJD MLAs staged a walkout announcing that they would boycott the minister for the rest of the session. The reply was quick. “You are welcome to boycott me”, said an infuriated Choubey.
“The minister’s behaviour was unparliamentary,” remarked RJD MLA Bhai Birendar.