Deputy Speaker Quits After Protesting, Trooping Into Well3 March 2011
The Daily Excelsior
Jammu: Deputy Speaker Sartaj Madni resigned from his post today after protesting in the Assembly and trooping into Well of the House in protest against remarks by Speaker Mohammad Akbar Lone that he had violated decorum of the House and behaved like a spokesman of the PDP as published in the Excelsior. Mr Madni handed over his resignation to the Speaker in post afternoon sitting of the Assembly and left the House saying he should be allotted a seat as an Opposition MLA. Mr Lone, however, announced that he was yet to decide on resignation of the Deputy Speaker. In his one page resignation latter, Mr Madni, who belonged to the PDP, leveled counter allegations against the Speaker saying the latter was trying to run the House as 'personal estate’’ through Marshals and not in democratic spirit of accommodation, debate and discussion. After submitting his resignation to the Speaker in the House through a Watch and Ward member, Mr Madni urged the Chair to allot him a seat as an opposition MLA. The Speaker maintained that he has not accepted the resignation so far. However, Mr Madni left the House saying he would return only when he is allotted the seat of an opposition MLA. As expected, Mr Lone today rejected the adjournment motion moved by PDP Legislature Party leader Mehbooba Mufti along with 15 other MLAs saying it has been rendered infructuous as the opposition party moved it for February 1 but allowed a brief debate on the subject-the prevailing situation in Kashmir. On being pointed out by the PDP MLAs that it was a clerical mistake, Mr Lone said it could be but the motion was rendered infructuous the day it was moved. 'How reckless you are in writing. Let it be a clerical mistake but it was signed by 16 MLAs. You had asked for adjournment of the House on February 1 and not March 1. The MLAs could have moved a fresh motion today but it was also not done. Though the motion is not maintainable, I would allow a brief debate on the subject’’, he added. Late in the afternoon, Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ali Mohammad Sagar and Political Advisor to Chief Minister Devender Rana met Mr Madni and tried to persuade him to withdraw his resignation. Official sources said Mr Madni has not agreed to withdraw his resignation so far. They added that another attempt would be made to persuade the Deputy Speaker. As soon as the House resumed its business this morning, Mr Madni, supported by all PDP MLAs including Ms Mufti, was on his feet saying he should be allowed to speak on the remarks made against him by the Speaker in today’s issue of the Excelsior. As Mr Lone paid no heed towards Mr Madni, the Deputy Speaker trooped into Well of the House displaying a copy of the newspaper and seeking time from the Chair to allow him to make his point. Though the Marshals surrounded the Deputy Speaker but being a Presiding Officer he was not stopped from reaching close to the Speaker’s chair. While Mr Lone maintained a silence, Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ali Mohammad Sagar observed that it was unprecedented and never seen in history of the Legislature that a Presiding Officer was trooping into Well of the House. 'Mr Madni, this is unprecedented. It speaks the volumes the way you are behaving. It is condemnable’’, Mr Sagar said, adding: 'we have all the respect for you but you should maintain decorum of the House’’. Saying that he has been hurt by the remarks of the Speaker, Mr Madni kept on shouting in Well of the House but returned to his seat after few minutes as the Speaker didn’t react. 'This is for the first time that a Presiding Officer has trooped into Well. What he wants to teach us’’? NC MLA Saifullah Mir remarked. As the PDP MLAs kept on protesting from their seats, Mr Sagar requested the Speaker to allow Mr Madni to speak. The PDP MLAs also wanted the Chair to react as the Deputy Speaker wanted to make a point. The Speaker said he would allow the Deputy Speaker to raise his issue after the Question Hour. Panthers Party leader Harshdev Singh urged the Chair to allow Mr Madni to speak as the Question Hour is being disrupted by the PDP MLAs. The Speaker then allowed Mr Madni to make his point. Mr Madni said he stood up when the Marshals injured one of the MLA and blood was oozing from him (during protests by the PDP MLAs on Tuesday). 'I asked the Marshals to behave properly’’, he said. Addressing the Speaker, Mr Madni said: 'you have no authority to ask me to resign. You should have asked Ashok Khajuria (the BJP MLA) to resign for speaking against Islam. I have never seen what happened with the MLAs on Tuesday. You have to listen to all and take all MLAs together’’. Mr Madni also referred to the remarks that former Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed had orchestrated the pandemonium by the PDP MLAs in the House on Tuesday saying he (the Mufti) is a honourable member of the House. He said no one could stop him from speaking truth. In his resignation letter addressed to the Speaker, Mr Madni said: 'I read with disappointment your remarks carried by the Daily Excelsior about recent proceedings in the House. Even as you have invoked decorum of the House to justify your partisan and often unparliamentary conduct as Speaker, I have never seen any action by any Presiding Officer that compromised with dignity and decorum of an august forms like ours, as your interview has done. 'You have indeed created a Parliamentary history of your own during the last two years and one would not like to dwell on it. But in your interview, I think you have beaten even your own standards of functioning as the Speaker. It is for the first time that the custodian of the House, as the Speaker is supposed to be, anywhere in the democratic world goes to town outside the House to launch a smear campaign against the opposition’’. Pointing out that even the Parliament had witnessed uproar for entire session, the Deputy Speaker wanted to know how many times did the Speaker of Lok Sabha or Chairman of Rajya Sabha used marshals to keep decorum of the House? 'You are obviously following not the established Parliamentary practices and traditions to run the House but pursuing your party’s policy of beating everybody into submission. If the Government run by your party has converted the State into a large prison and a Constitutional wasteland, you are trying to run the House, that is the repository of aspirations of our people, as personal estate that would be run through Marshals and not in the democratic spirit of accommodation, debate and discussion’’, he said. He added: 'you have in particular trained your guns on me as Deputy Speaker. You have been hauling up the Government functionaries and prosecuting media persons for daring to speak the truth, under the cover of legislative immunity. Would the Deputy Speaker of the House not be entitled even to the courtesy of a private discussion if he does not enjoy even a fraction of the similar Constitutional safeguards as your majesty does’’? Asserting that the Speaker is supposed to be the guarding of every member’s privileges, Mr Madni asked: 'who would protect them (the members) when you yourself choose to go to press during a session and use unbecoming expressions even against the senior most and highly respected members’’? He said 'in your wisdom you have thought it fit to advise me to resign from my post. You have cited my intervention in the marshalling out of honourable members as the reason of my quitting the Deputy Speaker’s position. I may very humbly submit that any person with a human heart and conscience would intervene when someone, even not an MLA, is being physically assaulted and injured for raising his voice in defence of the people, who are victims of their own Government’s atrocities. I can assure you that I will continue with the habit. 'You have publicly and brazenly advised me to quit my post. I therefore tender my resignation from the post of the Deputy Speaker of the Legislative Assembly with utmost humanity and my personal regard for all honourable members of the House’’.