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Opp MLAs stage walkout alleging violation of rules

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By Our Reporter

SHILLONG, Feb 27: The Opposition MLAs staged a walkout on the last day of the Assembly’s Budget session on Tuesday in protest against the violation of the House rules on passing grants before the reply to the Budget discussion by Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma.
Raising a point of order, Umsning MLA Celestine Lyngdoh said the due process for passing the general Budget was not observed. He called the attention of the chair to study the provisions of Rules 142 and 143 of the Procedures and Conduct of the Business of Meghalaya Legislative Assembly, which clearly state that the Budget has to be disposed of in two stages.
The stage 1 is general discussions while the stage 2 is voting on demand of grants, he said.
“In stage 2, Rule 143 has clearly spelled out that during the general discussion, there should be no voting on demand for grants,” he said.
Lyngdoh pointed out that last Friday, the discussion on the general Budget was not completed but the voting on demand for grants was placed in the House and even voted on, which was a contravention of Rule 143.
The situation led to some tense moments in the House.
He requested the Speaker to expunge the words used by him, stating that they are wasting time, and to rectify the effort by correcting the ‘misleading’ statement of the chief minister that last Friday was for supplementary demands.
“Until and unless rules are followed, there is no use being inside the House,” he said.
While giving his ruling, Speaker Thomas A. Sangma said: “It was not my intention to say this House is wasting its time. Actually, because of the time constraint, I asked not to say unnecessary things and to come straight to the point. However, I stand corrected and the words ‘wasting of time’ will be expunged.”
However, on the second issue, he said the calendar has been finalised in the BAC placed in the House on the first day when it sat for business on February 16 and approved the calendar.
Not satisfied with the ruling of the Speaker, members of the three opposition political parties staged a walkout.
“The ruling is not very clear, we are not satisfied so the Opposition members have no role to sit here and waste their time (since) the reply of the finance minister is redundant,” Lyngdoh said while leading the members out of the House.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Prestone Tynsong said the Speaker’s ruling is very clear while senior leader Mukul Sangma said the walkout was as a token of protest and disapproval.
The chief minister said the Opposition members are making an issue despite being part of the decision when the House accepted the calendar proposed by the BAC.
He also accused the Opposition members of not wanting to listen to his reply on the Budget discussion after seeing the kind of work happening in the state.
Explaining his move further, Celestine Lyngdoh said: “In layman’s terms, we say what is the end of general discussion on the Budget, and the end of discussion is signified by the reply of the finance minister.”
He said the finance minister replied on Tuesday but went against the rules on Friday. He also said a member raising a point of order does not mean a waste of time but it is to call the attention of the chair to important matters.
Extending his support to the Umsning MLA, Opposition leader Ronnie V Lyngdoh wondered what would happen to other institutions if rules were not followed in the legislature.

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