Opposition lodges protest against reducing the number of Shimla Municipal Corporation wards from 41 to 34

The Opposition BJP in Himachal Pradesh Assembly staged a protest and walkout from the house on Wednesday against the passing of Himachal Pradesh Municipal Corporation Bill  2023 in the house on Tuesday to reduce the number of Shimla MC ward from 41 to 34.

After the question hour, the issue was raised by BJP Member Randhir Sharma through the point of order. ” The Government has introduced and passed an important bill there in the absence in hurry yesterday when they were staging a walkout yesterday” Mr. Sharma said accusing the treasury benches cleared the legislation without proper discussion.

Mr. Sharma said that the Government came to the house with an amendment and a declaration of the Shimla MC election together. ” Why Congress govt was in such a hurry as it came with this legislation in the assembly at the same time notification of the Shimla MC Election was made.  He also made a few remarks on how the bill was passed (however all such remarks were expunged by the speaker).

Replying to the point of order of Sharma about the passing of the bill yesterday,  Parliamentary Affairs Minister Harshvardhan Chauhan stated that to get media headlines yesterday entire opposition members were out of Assembly and staging a walkout from the house and the bill was also important they realized today when they read in the newspaper. If they would be so serious about the discussion on the bill they should remain in the house.

Minister commented on the BJP members that it is up to them if they have to get media headlines or raise the issue of public interest in the house. BJP members also came without studying the text of the bill today which have been passed by the house yesterday as members did not mention the correct context of the bills in the house even today, Mr. Chauhan added that the opposition should have been serious about the issue before accusing the treasury benches for passing the legislation in the tiring hurry.

Leader of Opposition Jai Ram Thakur also objected that the Government had made the state election Commission a vestigial organ bypassing the rules and laws. He said that the entire rule has been circumvented many times 15 days ago from March 6 to 16. LOP pointed out that before announcing the SMC election the SEC or government first suspended the revision of electoral rolls however after a few days it was finalized in a hurry.

Mr. Thakur said that by changing rules and notifications the Government acted against the sanctity of the Delimitation process. The constitutional provisions of delimitation were distorted by reducing the population criteria to reduce the number of wards. Mr. Jai Ram Thakur said that the government tried to hijack the election process by changing the revised election roll overnight as 11000 new votes were made to ensure the victory of Congress in the SMC election. He said that the former BJP government ensured that every voter should be registered in one place but this government has now tried to reverse the reform made by the previous government in the registration of electoral rolls at two places.

Replying to the objections raised by the former CM on the passing of the MC Act, Chief Minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu stated that the leader of the opposition should have participated in the proceedings of the house during its discussion on the bill as he could elaborate on the issue in more length. Accusing the members of opposition benches for remaining absent during the discussion on the bill Mr. Sukhu said that they similarly evaded the discussion on the water cess bill moreover Punjab and Haryana assembly was more serious on the issue as they also opposed the legislation but unfortunately Opposition was also lodging a Walkout at that time instead of participating on the discussion. 

Mr. Sukhu defended his government by passing the bill, announcing of SMC poll, and bringing an ordinance he stated that during BJP rule the Shimla MC poll was mandatory to be held before the Vidhan Sabha poll, ” They did everything to make the vestigial system stop to hold an election now accusing his government in the matter.”  The Chief Minister said that the rest of the process was also stayed by the Himachal Pradesh High Court as affected people went to court against the increasing of wards in a haphazard manner to score the political benefit. The Chief Minister accused the former rule to coined a new ward ‘Nabha’ under SMC having only 800 voters.  He added that award was reserved for women deliberately reserved time and again. Defending the decision to reduce the number of wards in SMC Mr. Sukhu mentioned that BJP also has challenged the ordinance of decreasing the number of wards in the court. If there is any shortcoming in the ordinance, the court may stay the same.  

Deputy Chief Minister Mukesh Agnihotri also commented that the LOP should have participated in the discussion rather than joining the discussion after passing the bills. He said that the state assembly was passing a bill to create Rs 4000 revenue generation through water cess but the Opposition was not in the house and protesting outside the assembly. Mr. Agnihotri said that people rejected the BJP rule 100 days ago but they did not learn how to raise the issue of public interest in the state assembly.

 Speaker Kuldeep Singh Pathania also said that members of the opposition should raise objections on the bill in the introduction stage moreover they were present in the house when it was listed for the discussion yesterday. He said that if they still consider the bill so important they could give objections against the legislation when it was on the introduction level.

” Since no member of the opposition opposed the bills on the introduction level therefore it is not proper for them to point out the lapse in the legislation already cleared by the house. ” The Speaker also mentioned that Randhir Sharma also mentioned a few words today about the process of the house to clear the bills which are in poor test and should be expunged from the proceeding of the house today.

Latter the speaker asked the house to follow the next agenda but no member of the opposition benches respond to the ruling of the chair and they continue raising slogans against the passing of the Municipal Corporation Act and latter walkout from the house. Before the launch break the house was discussing the irregularities in Himachal Pradesh Staff Selection Commission Hamirpur through special mentions by the treasury benches in absence of opposition members.    

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