Unprecedented pandemonium in House, Opposition walks out

Opposition members led by Dr. Donkupar Roy storm the well of the Assembly and argue with Speaker
AT Mondal on the first day of the Autumn Session on Friday. (TM)

SHILLONG: Pandemonium ensued in the Assembly on Friday after the Opposition members barged into the well of the House, gheraoed the Assembly Speaker AT Mondal and stood before him shouting for over an hour before walking out of the House for not allowing them to discuss the adjournment motion on Inner Line Permit and the law and order situation.

The scene on Friday was unprecedented as the legislators created disorder that tarnished the decorum and dignity of the House.

Soon after the House assembled, UDP legislator Paul Lyngdoh sought the status of the adjournment motion moved by 10 members of the Opposition Meghalaya People’s Forum.

The 10 members of the MPF include Leader of Opposition Dr. Donkupar Roy, Paul Lyngdoh, Tistosstarwell Chyne, Jemino Mawthoh, Embhah Syiemlieh, HB Nongsiej, Remington Pyngrope and Metbah Lyngdoh (all UDP) and James K Sangma and Nihim D Shira (NPP).

The Speaker informed Lyngdoh that the matter would be taken up after the Question Hour.

However, after the Question Hour, the Speaker while referring to the rules of the Meghalaya Legislative Assembly and the convention in Parliament said that since a resolution put forward by Ardent Basaiawmoit (HSPDP) on ILP was already listed to be taken up on October 8, the adjournment motion, which is of a similar nature, cannot be allowed.

Moreover, the Speaker also said a question posed by James K Sangma (NPP) is already posted to be taken up by the House on Monday.

Quoting relevant rules, the Speaker also said, “What is anticipatory in nature cannot be discussed as only a new agenda can be taken up under the adjournment motion.”

However, Paul Lyngdoh said that all members are deeply disturbed by the law and order situation and the current disturbance is the fall-out of the demand of ILP by the NGOs.

“We are talking about the current situation and it is not something anticipatory in nature,” Lyngdoh said.

Clifford Marak (GNC) said there is a difference between resolution and adjournment motion as there is continued violence arising out of the demand for ILP which is of urgent public importance.

Opposition Leader, Dr. Donkupar Roy pointed out that since the State is drifting away from peace the adjournment motion should be taken up.

“If we do not take up this important issue, it would mean that the House is not seized of the urgency to discuss this burning issue,” Dr. Roy said.

James Sangma said that though he had put forward a question on ILP, the text of the adjournment motion is more on the law and order situation.

When the Speaker was adamant that the adjournment motion cannot be allowed, Clifford Marak walked to the well of the House and stood before the Speaker. Subsequently other members gathered there and banged the table to compel the Speaker to allow the adjournment motion to be taken up.

While the Chief Minister Dr. Mukul Sangma urged the Speaker to carry on with the day’s proceedings, the Government Chief Whip Ronnie V Lyngdoh said that the people are held to ransom not only outside, but also inside the House.

Noisy scenes by the Opposition members prompted the Speaker to adjourn the House until 11:35 am.

When the House reassembled, the Opposition continued to create unruly scenes demanding discussion on the ILP.

The marshals, who stood beside the Speaker, tried to prevent one or two members who were trying to climb onto the table.

This time, the HSPDP members too joined others in protest against the stand of the Speaker.

HSPDP legislator Ardent Basaiawmoit said that the members should be allowed to discuss matters related to ILP even though he had moved a resolution on the same matter.

He also suggested that the resolution on the same matter can be dropped to pave way for taking up the adjournment motion.

This led to a heated argument between the Government Chief Whip Ronnie Lyngdoh and Basaiawmoit.

Taking on Ronnie Lyngdoh, who came to the defence of the Government and the stand of the Speaker, Basaiawmoit, pointed a finger at him and said, “You are not concerned. You are a stranger to the situation.”

However, the Speaker asked both the legislators to address him instead of personally attacking each other.

Even during the Obituary reference, the Opposition members and the HSPDP legislators stood in front of the Speaker’s table alleging that he was partisan, which, however, was denied by the Speaker.

The Chief Minister who started the Obituary reference expressed concern over the demonstration of the MLAs in the House.

He also appealed to the Opposition members not to create any precedence of disrupting the proceedings and to maintain the decorum and dignity of the House. The Chief Minister also asked the Speaker to use his discretion and be guided by the powers bestowed on him.

Unhappy over the Speaker for disallowing the adjournment motion, the entire Opposition walked out of the House.