GUWAHATI, Sept 5 - With Opposition legislators taking exception to Health and Education Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma�s absence in the Assembly on a day when issues relating to his departments were being taken up, Speaker Hitendra Nath Goswami today said every member is accountable to the Assembly and the House should be their top most priority.
Immediately after the Question Hour, Congress legislator Sherman Ali Ahmed raised a point of order saying that Sarma�s absence �degrades the honour and dignity of the House�. He said, �health and education are supposed to be priority areas. Today when we are discussing the subjects, the minister is absent. It violates the rules.�
His colleague Ajanta Neog rued that only minister Chandra Mohan Patowary was replying to queries of all the departments and asserted that he cannot speak on �policy matters� of departments which are not under him.
In defence, Patowary claimed that Himanta Biswa Sarma along with Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal and AGP ministers Atul Bora and Keshab Mahanta had to rush to Delhi because of some �important work�. �They had taken the Speaker�s permission before leaving for Delhi. Moreover, a minister replying on behalf on another minister is not outside the procedure of the House,� the Parliamentary Affairs Minister said.
BJP MLA Pijush Hazarika said the �tradition� (of a minister replying on behalf of his colleague) was started by the previous Congress government.
As the debate led to noisy scenes, Speaker Hitendra Nath Goswami interrupted and said every member is accountable to the House.