Ranchi, Sept. 4: A united Opposition today formally announced that it would keep off the entire monsoon session of the Assembly if its duration was not extended to 10 working days from the present four before the House convenes tomorrow.
After a meeting in the day, a delegation of Opposition leaders met Speaker Inder Singh Namdhari and communicated the decision, taken for the first time after the formation of Jharhand, to him.
The leaders told Namdhari that since it was not possible to call a meeting of the business advisory committee before the start of the session at 11 am, he should instead convene an all-party meeting by 10.30 am to decide the matter.
Namdhari requested the Opposition to attend tomorrow’s session, saying that after the obituary references, a meeting of the business advisory committee could thrash out the differences.
But the Opposition leaders turned down the request and said they would not attend the session tomorrow.
“I spoke to chief minister Arjun Munda, who said that since he was leading a coalition government, he could not extend the session’s duration without consulting the supporting parties. I told the Opposition leaders that it was only a matter of an hour. But they disagreed. I hope they see the logic of the matter,” Namdhari said.
Leader of Opposition Stephen Marandi said the Opposition would not attend the session tomorrow, but in case a decision extending the duration by 10 days is communicated to them by Monday morning, they would reconsider the matter.
The government is reluctant to extend the duration on the grounds that it does not have much business to conduct. But the Opposition leaders accuse the government of running away from the House and the pressing issues facing the state.
“We have been making a demand for a reasonable duration of the session for almost a week now. But the government decided to face the House only on four working days. This clearly indicates the chief minister’s intentions,” CPI(ML) member Mahendra Prasad Singh said.
But Namdhari quoted the chief minister as saying that a formal request to extend the duration had come to him only this evening and it was too short a “notice period” to decide the matter.
The crucial issues listed by the Opposition that should be discussed during a longer session include law and order, discrepancies in the implementation of economic schemes, irregularities in development programmes, the drought situation and the governor’s comments.
“The governor has said that if the situation in Jharkhand was not controlled, it would go the Northeast way. He has also said that the mismanagement of the administrative machinery was the main reason for the problems of the state. These are extremely serious observations coming from a governor. But the government is not willing to talk about these comments,” the CPI(ML) legislator said.
But BJP chief whip C.P. Singh said the decision to have a four-day session was apt because of the limited business before the House. “The Opposition is only trying to play a game of one-upmanship and its concern for pressing issues facing the state is only a sham,” he added.
The Opposition, up in arms against VHP leader Praveen Togadia’s trip to Ranchi, also said the protest was “pre-emptive and pre-cautionary” without being directed against a citizen’s fundamental right to freedom of movement.