Opposition walkout over jailing farmers

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Bhopal, Mar 11: Congress-led opposition members today staged a dharna in the well of the Madhya Pradesh Assembly and later staged a walkout over putting several thousand farmers in jail on a charge of power theft and not providing regular electricity supply for students preparing for examination.

Members of Congress, CPI(M) and Samajwadi Party resorted to dharna when Energy Minister Gaurishankar Shejwar was replying to the debate on the budgetary demands of the departments held by him. Alleging that the minister's reply was vague and did not provide correct data on the number of farmers put behind the bars, they staged dharna and indulged in slogan-shouting. Despite Speaker Ishwardas Rohani's ruling that the slogan-shouting will not be taken on record, the protest continued.

After about ten minutes, the agitated opposition members returned near their seat but did not occupy it. Amid slogan shouting, they staged the walkout, but did not return till the minister completed the reply.

Dr Shejwar alleged that the Congress-led government at the Centre was doing 'injustice' with the BJP government in Madhya Pradesh by curtailing the discretionary quota from 350 to 31 megawatt. Besides, implementation of Birsinghpur and Amarkantak units were deliberately delayed causing shortage of 710 megawatt.

Claiming that line loss was reduced from 8 to five percent, he said the distribution system was strengthened.''No farmer was jailed for non-payment of electricity bills, but for other irregularities'', he clarified, adding the previous Congress government had made no budgetary provision to waive the electricity bill of farmers.

Much of what Dr Shejwar claimed about the government achievement in power and education sector was not audible due to the slogan shouting by Congress members.

The opposition members also criticised the minister for exceeding the time limit by giving a political statement instead of coming out with facts. But the Speaker came to the minister's rescue saying the opposition's conduct was 'undemocratic'. They should have the patience to hear to the minister's reply.


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