Guwahati: It was all about COVID19, National Register of Citizens and Citizenships Amendment Act (CAA) on Monday as the Opposition tried to corner the state government as the monsoon session of the Assam Assembly started.
While Opposition leaders staged a token dharna protest against the state government’s alleged failure in controlling COVID 19 outbreak, Congress MLA Rupjyoti Kurmi was even suspended from the Question Hour session for allegedly creating nuisance in the House.
Kurmi was asking about the state government’s intention about implementing the Assam Accord and brining in CAA at the same time. “How can the two coexist? CAA clearly violates the spirit of the Assam Accord. Moreover, the NRC though completed one year, it’s still pending to resolve the influx issue. That’s why the state government must clear its stand,” Kurmi asked.
Replying to the question, state’s parliamentary affairs minister Chandra Mohan Patowary said that the Sarbananda Sonowal led state government would implement the Assam Accord to its true spirit.
“I want to challenge if anyone from Assam’s 26000 villages can show me that a single Hindu Bangladeshi has come to settle in the state after the Centre approves CAA. There is no point in misleading the state’s people with emotion. Assam has always been a place where people from all religion, caste and colour have coexisted peacefully. I want to promise the people of the state from the House that Assam government is committed to implement all the clauses of Assam Accord,” Patowary replied.
However, the situation went out of control when unhappy with the answer, Kurmi began to counter-question and Speaker Hitendra Nath Goswami suspended him for creating noisy scenes in the House.
Meanwhile, several Congress MLAs also staged a protest inside the Assam Assembly campus with placards alleging the state government’s failure in controlling COVID19.
Leader of the Opposition Debabrata Saikia said, “Assam Finance and Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Saturday announced that the state is facing financial stress due to the huge expenditure in handling the COVID-19 pandemic and from now onwards, the patients have to bear the expenses of tests, travel, food, etc. We want to ask why? The state government had said that they can handle the situation then why such steps now. How can the people pay when their finance is already hit by the pandemic?”
Saikia informed that the Opposition wanted a special discussion on the COVID 19 situation in the state but the prayer was denied by the Speaker.
Earlier, Sarma said that the state government would withdraw a host of freebies given to its patients. He announced the withdrawal of some of the non-chargeable services offered to COVID-19 patients like dropping them at their homes after discharge from hospitals and levied charges on dedicated cabins. If anyone wishes to get the result of RT-PCR tests in government hospitals within 24 hours, then it will be charged at Rs 2,200 at the government hospitals.
“While fighting COVID-19 pandemic in Assam, state’s revenues or resources have been hit and if the situation continues till October-November, then it will be difficult for us,” he said.
On Monday, the four-day autumn session of the 14th Assam Legislative Assembly began with strict COVID19 protocols. For the first time, only 50 percent of the MLAs from all the parties were asked to attend the House physically on a single day. This attendance rule will be followed on a rotation basis among the legislators. The Leader of each Legislature Party will determine the time as to when the party MLAs will attend the sessions.