Bedlam & bill rush in Assembly

BJP's Rajmahal MLA voices threat to life, Hemant hits back with common man parallel

By OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT in Ranchi
  • Published 21.07.18
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KEEPING HOUSE: Speaker Dinesh Oraon asks Opposition MLAs to maintain decorum in the Assembly on Friday and (right) Leader of the Opposition and JMM executive president Hemant Soren protests against land acquisition laws outside. Pictures by Prashant Mitra

Ranchi: The Assembly on Friday cleared nine new bills amid mud-slinging over a wide range of issues - from land acquisition and labour laws to citizen security. While the House was held in fits and starts on the penultimate day of the monsoon session, the CAG report on state finances in 2016-17 was peacefully tabled.

The Bihar Rajbhasha (Jharkhand Amendment) Bill, the Jharkhand Advocates Clerks Welfare Fund Bill, the Jharkhand Water, Gas and Drainage Pipelines (Right to Acquire Land of Users) Bill, the Capital University Bill, the Usha Martin University (Amendment) Bill, the Sainath University (Amendment) Bill, the Industrial Disputes (Jharkhand Amendment) Bill, the Jharkhand Labour Rules (Amendment) Bill and the Procedural Provisions and Contractual Workers (Exchange and Eradication) Jharkhand Amendment Bill were all passed by voice vote.

Proposals by Opposition members to either not clear these bills or refer them to the Assembly's select committee were defeated by voice vote.

The Bihar rajbhasha bill, granting second official language status to Maithili, Bhojpuri, Magahi and Angika, was however amended on the floor of the House at the behest of BJP MLA Menaka Sardar. She demanded that this law be named after Jharkhand, like the one granting second official language status to Bengali, Odia, Santhali and eight other regional languages. She also wanted the Bhumij language appended.

JVM legislative party leader Pradip Yadav said the proposed law involving land acquisition for laying pipelines would trigger widespread public unrest because land losers would be able to register their complaints only within 30 days and they would be penalised for damages caused to pipelines.

"Technically, the law makes the government the real owner of every acre. The raiyats are reduced to mere holders or occupants. Kick them out and give away their land," he fumed.

Arup Chatterjee of MCC said under the proposed industrial disputes law, a sacked worker would be able to approach the labour commissioner's court only within 30 days instead of the existing provision of three years.

"After being thrown out of job, a worker usually requests his employer to reconsider his case and waits for a few months or even years. Also, the proposed amendments do not specify if the labour court too will have to settle the dispute within stipulated time," he added.

Referring to amendments in contractual workers law, Chatterjee said earlier, any small enterprise engaging at least 10 workers was bound to follow labour laws. "The government first raised the cap to 20 and now it will be 50. Provisions are being changed for medium enterprises as well. In short, any company engaging up to 88 employees will be beyond the purview of labour laws. This is atrocious."

Leader of the Opposition Hemant Soren claimed all these proposed new laws had been worked out without completing necessary groundwork and that these would be rejected either by the governor or the President.

Soon after the House began at 11am, BJP chief whip Radha Krishna Kishore said his party MLA from Rajmahal, Anant Kumar Ojha, was receiving threat calls. Ojha added that since July 11, someone was threatening to kill him and his entire if he did not stop raising issues related to infiltration from Bangladesh.

Opposition members wondered what the Raghubar Das government was doing about security. "If this is the case with a government (read BJP) MLA, the plight of commoners in the state can easily be understood," ridiculed Hemant.

Opposition parties also initiated three adjournment motions - Pradip Yadav of JVM demanding a CBI probe into MLA defection; Kunal Sarangi of JMM complaining that occupants of gair mazrua (government) land were not being given receipts against revenue fee; and Irfan Ansari of Congress referring to lack of amenities for Shravan pilgrims.

But, Speaker Dinesh Oraon rejected the proposals. Agitated Opposition members soon trooped to the Well of the House and raised slogans. Within 20 minutes, the House was adjourned till 12.15pm. It reassembled but to be adjourned again till 2pm after the CAG report was tabled.

The bills were passed in the second sitting even as JMM members raised slogans. Urban development minister C.P. Singh lost his cool after Hemant called him an "old man".