The budget session in June saw an embarrassed Congress cringing when folk-singer turned MLA (from Bhadaur), Mohammad Sadiq crooned on request of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal. To add insult to the injury, treasury benches were quick to ridicule “issueless” opposition for resorting to singing. During rare moments of bonhomie, a few Congress MLAs showered lavish praise on Badal during the budget debate.
The party now seems unwilling to allow such unbridled discretion to its MLAs. Nearly a month before the winter session starts on December 17, Congress Legislative Party leader Sunil Jakhar Monday convened a meeting of party MLAs asking them to do “homework” on issues the party intends to corner the government with.
The issues identified by the party range from political appointment of Lokpal, poor state of finances, deteriorating law and order situation, bungling in central schemes to diversion of Shagun, border area and discretionary funds by sitting and former ministers, including Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal towards his constituency Lambi, during the polls.
The MLAs have been asked to decide the issues they wish to work upon and come battle ready with enough verbal ammunition. Once decided, it would be the duty of that MLA or group to ensure a fiery debate in the House on the issue. Meanwhile, others are to show discipline by letting their partymen speak and not deviate from the issues during the Zero Hour.
Jakhar confirmed the meeting was convened to set the agenda for the December Assembly session. “Since there are many issues, we decided to divide them between MLAs beforehand so that the government is made to account for all the wrongs be it bungling of funds, poor fiscal health or appointment of a cabinet minister’s brother as Lokpal,” he said.
On resolutions too, party MLAs are now being cautious. In last session, Congress MLA Ajit Singh Mofar had caused a flutter both within the House and in far north-east by his resolution seeking export of stray dogs to Nagaland and other “dog-eating” states. However, this time Mofar says he intends to highlight issues concerning common man such as rising number of road accidents. “Though stray dogs are also killing many and I want to ask how many more have been bitten by them in the last three months,” Mofar said.