GUWAHATI, March 4 � Opposition members staged a walk-out in the State Assembly today following an �intimidating� statement by Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma. The Health Minister told Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) leader and former Chief Minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta that if the latter continued to drag him (former) into controversies, things would turn worse (Poristhiti bisom hobo).
The Opposition leaders later told newspersons that their future course of action on the issue would depend on the response from the Speaker and the Chief Minister to their appeal in this regard.
While taking part in the debate on the Governor�s address, Prafulla Kumar Mahanta tried to explain how insurgency adversely influenced Assam�s society. Insurgency should not be treated lightly. He referred to Satis Chandra Kakati�s Problems of North East and Beyond Counter-insurgency: Breaking the Impasse in North East India edited by Sanjib Baruah to explain the role of the Centre and also the genesis of insurgency in the NE region respectively.
In this connection, he referred to Himanta Biswa Sarma and Bharat Narah�s joining the Congress. This led to a din in the House with Himanta Biswa Sarma and AGP members trading charges.
Sarma said that he �had not recommended anybody�s wife�s (he named �Sanghamitra Bharali) name to the APSC (Assam Public Service Commission) to make her a member of the Commission.� He wanted to know despite that why his name has been
repeatedly dragged into controversy.
Mahanta said that character assassination is not new in Indian politics. So he was not taken aback by Sarma�s allegation against him of favouring somebody�s wife. He referred to Alex Von Tunzelmann�s Indian Summer: The Secret History of End of an Empire in this connection.
He further said that it was due to the TADA case against Sarma for alleged involvement in ULFA activities that he (Sarma) had to join the Congress. This infuriated Sarma further and he said that there was no TADA case against him. The court had cleared him of all such charges. He claimed that he (Sarma) was not chargesheeted by the CBI and repeated the charge against Mahanta of his recommending the name of Sanghamitra Bharali to the APSC.
Mahanta dared Sarma to produce the file that contains his (Mahanta�s) recommending the name of Sanghamitra Bharali to the APSC. A din followed this and Leader of the Opposition Chandra Mohan Patowary and AGP legislator Girin Barua were seen arguing with the Speaker at this time.
Sarma at this point warned that if his name is repeatedly dragged into controversy, the situation would turn worse.
Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi who was also present at this time tried to pacify Sarma, but his advice had seemingly no impact on Sarma and others.
Following this, the Opposition members wanted to know if Sarma was issuing a threat and Mahanta demanded that these words of Sarma should be expunged from the minutes of the House or else he said, he would be compelled to leave the House.
After some moments, the AGP legislators staged the walkout and they were followed by the legislators of the BJP, AUDF, CPI, CPIM and ASDC. Later, independent legislator Bhubon Pegu also joined them.
The Chief Minister said that all unparliamentary utterances should be expunged of the House proceedings. He regretted that though he rose to speak, the AGP legislators did not bother to listen to him.
Opposition stand: The Opposition leaders later met at a meeting at the AGP Legislator Party�s (AGPLP�s) office and resented the �threatening� and �indecent� words used by Sarma against Mahanta. They also pointed out to the fact that despite the request of the Chief Minister, the Speaker failed to expunge all the unparlaimentary words from the proceedings of the House.
The Speaker has also failed to uphold the dignity of the Opposition members and to ensure their rights and safety in the House, they said in their resolution. They also decided to send their resolution on the issue to the Speaker and the Chief Minister.
After the meeting, the Opposition leaders told newspersons, �We will see how the Speaker and the Chief Minister respond to our appeal on the issue.�
Besides, Chandra Mohan Patowary, Sirajuddin Ajmal and Dr Aditya Langthasa (AUDF), Mission Ranjan Das (BJP), Drupad Bargohain (CPI), Uddhav Barman and Ananta Deka (CPI-M), Jagat Singh Ingty (ASDC) and Bhuban Pegu (Independent) addressed the newspersons.