Guwahati, Aug 6: The Assam Assembly on Wednesday witnessed ruckus over speaker Biswajit Daimary's choice of words in describing the behaviour of arguing MLAs of ruling and opposition benches, leading to the adjournment of the House twice in quick succession. The words were later expunged by the speaker.
Two Congress MLAs, Jakir Hussain Sikdar and Kamalakhya Dey Purkayastha, who sat on the floor of the House to protest the Speaker's statement, were suspended and removed from the House by marshals. However, the Speaker later revoked that decision. The ruckus originated from a discussion over selection of candidates for the Madrasa Teacher Eligibility Test. When a Congress member raised a related issue, Education Minister Ranoj Pegu gave a clarification which the opposition were unwilling to accept, resulting in a din in the house.
The Speaker, who is a former Rajya Sabha member, tried to pacify MLAs of both ruling and opposition sides, but the commotion continued. Daimary responded by stating "There is something called "bhadrata" (decency). I don't know if decency in Assamese is parliamentary or unparliamentary." Using the word to describe the behaviour of the members, he said, "MLAs are not interested in talking decently. From where are we going to learn?
This is a serious matter." Independent MLA Akhil Gogoi immediately protested against the statement and urged him not to record this in the proceedings of the House. But the Speaker said: "This will be in the records. It has become necessary."
It followed a ruckus with the entire Opposition protesting and rushing to the Well of the house, followed by the ruling MLAs. Daimary tried to persuade the legislators to settle down, but with nobody listening to him, the Speaker adjourned the House for 30 minutes at 9:55 am. When it reassembled, the Leader of the Opposition Debabrata Saikia said that the word used by the Chair referred to a group of people who resort to unlawful use of violence and do not believe in democracy. Stating that "the word is synonymous to militants", the senior Congress leader requested him to withdraw the adjective used by him to describe MLAs.
Daimary, however, justified the use of the word saying it described the MLAs' behaviour and not the members themselves. When Gogoi supported Saikia in the demand to withdraw the word, Daimary said, "In Assam, there are many organisations. But Akhil Gogoi's organisation is more extreme than the rest of the groups. Is it bad then?"
This statement further angered the opposition and two Congress MLAs, Jakir Hussain Sikdar and Kamalakhya Dey Purkayastha, rushed to the Well and sat on the floor. The entire opposition rose to their feet and started shouting, demanding that the word be expunged. Daimary requested Sikdar and Purkayastha to return to their seats but they did not oblige. The entire opposition went near them and shouted slogans like "We want justice". The Speaker suspended the two from the House and asked marshals to remove them. He adjourned the assembly again for 15 minutes at 10:35 am. The marshals dragged the two Congress members out the House as the Opposition continued to shout: "We want justice, justice!"
When the House reassembled, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pijush Hazarika said, "There has been a misunderstanding regarding usage of one word. I request Speaker Sir to remove this misunderstanding and run the House smoothly." Saikia then said when Lok Sabha secretariat's list of unparliamentary words includes even 'liar', the word cannot be used for democratically elected legislators. Congress member Rakibul Hussain also urged the Speaker to expunge the word saying that otherwise, it will be difficult for the MLAs to argue in the House in future.
CPI(M) MLA Manoranjan Talukdar also supported Hussain. The parliamentary affairs minister then again requested the Speaker to give a clarification to remove the misunderstanding among the MLAs. Daimary who is from the Bodo community said, "I might have said something mistakenly as our mother tongues are different. Dictionary also says different meanings." The Speaker was a founding member of the opposition Bodoland People's Front (BPF). He joined the BJP last year.
"The Speaker has to listen to what the House says. So, if the House says that I am wrong, who am I to say anything? Words come out depending on the situation. Even the worst words come out of the mouth during tense situations. I don't know many words, I have limited knowledge of words.
"If there were no noise, then I would have not uttered that word. How will the House run if it continues to be disturbed? You bring placards with pre-planning which is against the rule," he added.
Daimary further said that though he personally thinks the word is not "bad" he is expunging it. Hussain then urged the Speaker to allow the two suspended Congress MLAs to attend the House. Daimary agreed to that and revoked his decision. Both the suspended MLAs then entered the House and attended the rest of the proceedings.