Golay leads walkout alleging Speaker bias
GANGTOK, 27 June: SKM and SDF MLAs have been going at each other on an increasingly acerbic tone since the start of the Budget Session, and today, the fifth day of the session, the confrontation, carried over from yesterday’s events, boiled over very fast and all 10 SKM MLAs staged a walk out within 10 minutes of the House convening. SKM president, Upper Burtuk MLA PS Tamang, led his party colleagues out of the Assembly alleging bias by the Speaker.
Mr. Tamang accused the Speaker, KN Rai, of acting at the behest of the Chief Minister and displaying bias when he expunged his [Mr. Tamang’s] comments made during the zero hour yesterday from the record of Assembly proceedings.
Quoting Rule 325 of the Sikkim Rules and Proceedings for business of the Sikkim Legislative Assembly, Mr. Tamang argued that he had raised issues related to the “business” transitioned in the Assembly over the past four days and that no unparliamentarily or defamatory words were used in his deliberation.
Speaker Mr. Rai, in the meanwhile, had explained yesterday that his decision to expunge Mr. Tamang’s address was because as per the rules there is no provision for Zero hour in conduct rule and directed the SKM MLAs to go through Rule 334 of Procedures and Conduct of Sikkim Legislative Business.
Mr. Tamang, addressing a press conference at MLA Hostel later in the day, reiterated that the Speaker had not followed the rule of procedure and alleged that the Assembly was being run not by the Speaker but by the Leader of the House.
He claimed that he and his legislators were raising issues backed with documentary and statistical evidence which is why they were not being allowed to speak freely and their statements were being expunged.
The treasury bench, he contended further, was resorting to name-calling because it did not have anything beyond claims to share.
His MLAs echoed this sentiment and alleged that the government was not allowing the opposition to speak on issues directly related to the welfare of the people and the state.
Interestingly, Forest Minister Tshering Wangdi Lepcha had a different explanation for the SKM walkout. This walkout, he claimed, was a pre-meditated move which was part of a strategy to shift focus from SKM leader, PS Tamang. Mr Lepcha claimed that since the Demand for Grants for the Animal Husbandry Department was to be taken up today, SKM walked out because it knew that the Vigilance case related to this Department [on a complaint filed by SSP’s Nar Bahadur Bhandari] under which Mr. Tamang has been chargesheeted, would have definitely come up.
Minister Lepcha said, “If he [Mr. Tamang] had a problem with the Speaker’s ruling on Zero Hour during Thursday's session, he should have walked out on the same day”.