Rajasthan Assembly’s budget session begins with suspension of 3 MLAs

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The budget session of the Rajasthan Assembly began on a stormy note on Monday with the Opposition members trying to disrupt Governor Kalraj Mishra’s customary address by raising the issue of rampant paper leaks in the State government’s recruitment exams. Mr. Mishra shortened his speech, reading just a few pages, and left the House.

Speaker C.P. Joshi suspended for the day Rashtriya Loktantrik Party’s (RLP) three agitating MLAs, who were demanding a CBI inquiry into the recent paper leak during the teachers’ recruitment exam, and ordered them to be marshalled out. The BJP legislators also trooped into the Well of the House and protested.

Senior BJP MLA and Leader of Opposition Gulab Chand Kataria raised the issue as soon as the House assembled. The Opposition members joined him and created a din with the demand for a CBI probe into the paper leak incident. Mr. Kataria said the Governor, as the constitutional head of the State, must intervene in the matter and secure the future of lakhs of students.

The Governor’s address was tabled in the House after he read a few of its pages. Following his departure, the House was adjourned. When it reassembled after, Congress MLA Anil Kumar Sharma, elected in the byelection from Churu’s Sardarshahar, was administered the oath of office.

RLP MLAs Narayan Beniwal, Pukhraj Garg and Indira Devi continued their protest and stormed into the well of the House, carrying placards demanding a CBI inquiry into the paper leak cases. Other Opposition members watched them silently from their seats at this point.

When his repeated instructions to the RLP legislators to go back to their seats failed to make an impact, the Speaker ordered the marshal to take them out of the House and expelled them for the rest of the day.

Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot later told reporters outside the Assembly that the Opposition MLAs had created a ruckus because they did not have the courage to listen to the Governor’s address, which gave details of the Congress government’s “enormous achievements”. “They came with a plan to disrupt [the address] so as not to let the message of achievements go to public,” he said.

Mr. Gehlot said his government was more concerned about the matter of paper leaks than the BJP and RLP and had taken very strong action in the latest instance. The Rajasthan government had provided jobs to the youth more than any other State in the country, he added.

The House paid tributes to former West Bengal Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi, former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav, former MLAs Bhanwar Lal Sharma and Rajendra Kumar Bhartiya and the victims of the recent cylinder blast incident in Jodhpur.

Besides the paper leak issue, the Opposition is likely to raise matters related to increasing crimes against women, rising unemployment, the State government’s alleged failure to fulfil the earlier budgetary promises and the resignation of Congress MLAs after a failed CLP meeting in the budget session. Mr. Gehlot will present his fifth and final budget in the Assembly on February 10.



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