Cong to boycott Constitution debate, go to Raj Bhavan

Congress to boycott Constitution debate, knock at Raj Bhavan’s door

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The Opposition Congress on Tuesday decided to boycott a debate on the Constitution after Speaker Vishweshwar Hegde Kageri refused their demand to discuss controversial statements against freedom fighter H S Doreswamy. 

With this, the Budget session of the Assembly got washed out for the second consecutive day. 

The Congress has sought the expulsion of BJP legislator Basanagouda Patil Yatnal for calling Doreswamy a “fake freedom fighter” and “a Pakistani agent”. 

A Congress delegation led by Leader of the Opposition Siddaramaiah will meet Governor Vajubhai R Vala on Wednesday over the issue, even as he accused Speaker Kageri of acting “as per the government’s direction.” 

The Assembly was scheduled to start at 11 am, but it did not begin until 1.40 pm. The Congress had formally moved a notice, under Rule 363 (Speaker’s residuary powers), seeking a discussion on Yatnal’s remarks against Doreswamy on grounds that it amounted to “misconduct” and “violation of the Constitution.” 

Apparently, Kageri had agreed to allow a debate on the matter till lunch. The Speaker, however, rejected the notice later, saying it was directly related to a particular member of the House, which required the Congress to issue a notice to Yatnal under Rule 328. “Also, as per Kaul & Shakdher’s Practice and Procedure of Parliament, I cannot permit allegations that have appeared in the media to be raised,” Kageri said, adding that whatever Yatnal had said was outside the House.

The Congress, whose members were already in the well of the House, created a ruckus. “This is undemocratic and Hitler-like,” Siddaramaiah cried. 

The Speaker had fixed a special discussion on the Constitution on Tuesday and Wednesday. “How can we sit and discuss the Constitution with those who have violated and disrespect the Constitution?” Siddaramaiah told reporters. “Since the Constitution has been violated, we will not participate in the Constitution debate, so long as Yatnal is in the House.” 

After his attempts to pacify the Opposition went in vain, Kageri began reading his introductory remarks on the Constitution debate scheduled for the day. Kageri read out his 39-page remarks, amid sloganeering by the Opposition. 

An irked Speaker rebuked the Opposition for “humiliating” the Constitution by not allowing peaceful progress of the session. “The people of the state have watched the session today. Your behaviour does not augur well for the dignity of the House. This is an insult to the House and to the Constitution,” Kageri said.

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