Himachal assembly revokes BJP legislator's suspension

Shimla:Proceedings in the Himachal Pradesh assembly on Wednesday virtually came to a standstill for nearly two hours over the suspension of an opposition BJP legislator for damaging the assembly property during ruckus a day earlier.

The proceedings resumed only after the suspension was revoked as sought by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) after legislator Ravinder Singh Ravi tendered an unconditional apology to the house.

As the house assembled in the morning, Speaker B.B.L. Butail announced that member Ravi, a five-time legislator and former minister, would be suspended for the entire session of the assembly, lasting till August 27.

Unhappy at the decision, BJP leader and two-time former Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal pleaded that Ravi's suspension should be revoked.

"You have not allowed the BJP members to speak (on Tuesday), citing the matter is sub-judice. On the other hand, the Chief Minister clarified about his cases at length," Dhuman said.

Dhumal even alleged that the Speaker was not conducting the house proceedings "in a fair and partial manner".

The assembly witnessed pandemonium on Tuesday with the BJP demanding that the Chief Minister respond to media reports on finalisation of a CBI chargesheet against him and staging a walk-out from the house.

Virbhadra Singh, on the other hand, accused a Union Minister and a former state Chief Minister, whose names were expunged on Wednesday from the house proceedings, of "hatching a political conspiracy" against him in the ongoing investigations in the disproportionate assets case against him.

The Enforcement Directorate had allegedly found that Virbhadra Singh had accumulated assets worth Rs 6.03 crore in his name and in the name of his family members, which it said were disproportionate to his known sources of income, during his term as Union Steel Minister from 2009 to 2011.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is also investigating the case. Media reports on Tuesday put the figure around Rs 10 crore.

Replying to the pleas of the BJP legislators to revoke the suspension, Speaker Butail said the action against Ravi was taken for damaging the assembly property and not for speaking and making comments.

"I can take cognizance (of breach of parliamentary norms) and there is no need for any complaint," the Speaker clarified.

Despite his repeated requests, Ravi didn't leave the house.

Intervening during the arguments, Urban Development Minister Sudhir Sharma expressed concern over the declining decorum in the house.

Without naming any member, he asked the members to conduct themselves in a dignified manner and maintain sanctity of the house.

Acceding to the requests of the BJP, the Speaker adjourned the house for 10 minutes to resolve the issue of suspension amicably.

After around an hour of adjournment when the house reassembled, the Speaker said the suspended member tendered an unconditional apology. He asked the house to take a call on the issue.

At this, the Chief Minister, who so far remained silent in the house, stood up and said: "(You (the Speaker) have taken the decision (to suspend him) and now you are leaving it on me to take the call."

"I have no problem for revoking his suspension. But he has to bear the cost for damaging the property (a mike)," the Chief Minister said.

After this, Minister Sudhir Sharma moved a resolution to revoke Rasvi's suspension and the house passed it unanimously.

Expressing gratitude to the house and regretting for his act, Ravi said he would bear the cost for replacing the damaged mike.