CHANDIGARH: There was major drama inside the Punjab Assembly last week, as a verbal duel took place between Local Bodies Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu and SAD leader Bikram Singh Majithia. State Finance Minister Manpreet Badal's budget speech got disrupted as SAD-BJP MLAs gathered in the well of the House and stood just a few feet away from Sidhu shouting slogans against him and Pakistan Army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa. Waiving photos of Sidhu hugging the Pak General, and sitting next to Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, the MLAs protested against his alleged failure to condemn Pakistan for the Pulwama attack.
The slogans and targeting continued for over half an hour without any intervention from anyone in the Congress ranks. Also present in the House when the incident took place, was Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh. Eventually, when the Speaker intervened and asked the SAD-BJP MLAs to desist from disturbing the House, Sidhu got up from his seat and entered into verbal spat with Majithia. Even so, no Congress MLA came to his aid for a long time until Amritsar (South) MLA, Inderbir Singh Bolaria came to Sidhu's side and took on the Akalis and Fatehgarh Sahib MLA Kuljit Singh Nagra also rushed forward.
Later, Cooperatives Minister Sukhjinder Randhawa rose in Sidhus' defence and starting shouting at Majithia. With more and more MLAs gathered around a visibly agitated Sidhu to support him, the Speaker asked the Marshals to escort the SAD-BJP MLAs out of the House for the rest of the day and adjourned the House for 15 minutes. Sidhu attempted to follow the SAD-BJP MLAs outside the House, but was restrained by some Congress MLAs.
Things got more dramatic scenes when the house adjourned as Sukhjinder Randhawa berated his fellow MLAs for not having adequately taken on Majithia. He could also be heard using disparaging terms terms about own government for not having acted against Majithia and allowing him to roam free. Parliamentary Affairs Minister Brahm Mohindra, Ferozepur MLA Parminder Singh Pinky and Sports Minister Gurmit Singh Sodhi gathered in a huddle around Amarinder even as Navjot Sidhu kept shouting at the top of his voice and gesticulating wildly.
Later, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said that everyone had the right to voice their opinion and it was up to Sidhu to explain his stand on the Pulwama attack. The CM said that Sidhu was a cricketer, while he was a soldier and both had different viewpoints on things, adding that the minister should have realised that he had gone overboard with his Pakistan visit.