Cong, AIUDF walk out of Assam Assembly as adjournment motion on COVID-19 disallowed

Guwahati, August 31 (PTI): The opposition Congress and AIUDF on Monday walked out of the Assembly after the speaker disallowed their adjournment motions to discuss the COVID-19 pandemic and its handling in Assam.

The Assam government, however, said they are ready to discuss the matter if it is brought in the House through any other way but not as an adjournment motion.

Leader of the Opposition Debabrata Saikia referred to Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma''s recent statement on the impact on revenue due to the pandemic and sought permission to discuss it at length.

On August 29, Sarma had announced that the state will withdraw a host of freebies given to COVID-19 patients as it is facing financial stress due to the huge expenditures in handling the pandemic.

Saikia said, "The cases in Assam are rising after the lockdown. Three districts of Barak valley are still under lockdown despite the Centre telling that there would be no more lockdown. Why are there such contradictory actions?"

On the admissibility of the AIUDF''s notice, its MLA Hafiz Bashir Ahmed said that as per the rules, a matter that is current, definite, urgent and of public importance can be discussed through an adjournment motion.

"The impact of COVID-19 is not only on private life but also on the economy, public health, education, social sector and all other spheres of the state. All the rules of an adjournment motion are applicable in this matter," he added.

Objecting to the notices, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Chandra Mohan Patowary said the pandemic has not only affected Assam but the entire world.

"We are ready to discuss it, but not through an adjournment motion. I request the opposition parties to bring it in any other device," he added.

Considering arguments from both sides, Speaker Hitendra Nath Goswami said the matter is not of urgent nature as it is happening for the last four-five months.

"A matter which cannot be raised through any other device should be raised through an adjournment motion. This session is only for four days and we have limited time. Considering these facts, I am disallowing the adjournment motion," he added.

To this, members of both the parties raised objections. The Congress MLAs also showed placards inside the House on the alleged harassment of the public due to the COVID-19 protocols.

"The decision is (part of) my absolute power. I will allow it in the next three days. Please bring it in any other device," Goswami said amid shouting from the opposition benches.

When the speaker did not budge and continued with other businesses of the House, the members of the Congress and AIUDF walked out.