Not paying tribute to Singhal is intolerance: BJP slams AAP

New Delhi: The Winter Session of Delhi Assembly today began on an acrimonious note as BJP MLAs’ demand to pay homage to late VHP leader Ashok Singhal was opposed by AAP legislators and rejected by Speaker, a move termed as an act of “intolerance” by the saffron outfit.

The House also discussed the issue of ‘growing intolerance’ in the country, among many other matters that included unauthorised colonies in the capital.

Leader of Opposition Vijender Gupta, who raised the demand for paying tribute to Singhal immediately after the House observed two minutes silence for the victims of Paris terror attack, termed the ruling party’s step as an act of “intolerance” in itself.

Speaker Ram Niwas Goel said Gupta’s demand could not be met as Singhal never held any government post and was never a member of the Union or state legislatures. He expunged a derogatory remark used against AAP MLA Amanatullah Khan from the proceedings.

However, Gupta claimed that the term was used by the AAP MLA against Singhal instead. The allegations and counter- allegations dominated the proceedings throughout the day.

At one point, Goel shouted at BJP MLA O P Sharma asking him not to “come out with his 56 inch chest” and disrupt the proceedings. On being confronted by the Opposition as to why he attended a condolence organised for Singhal, Goel said it was his “personal choice”.

AAP MLAs, including Jagdeep Singh, Amantullah Khan, Somnath Bharti, vociferously protested the demand made by Gupta and two other BJP legislators, claiming that Singhal had played a “divisive role” in his life and had participated in the movement for demolition of Babri Masjid in Ayodhya.

In the face of stiff opposition by AAP MLAs, the deceased VHP leader’s name was removed from official records citing his “communal background” and “divisive role”, according to a government official.

Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal was not present in the Assembly when the session began at 2 PM. Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia was present in the House.

Sisodia said terming the colonies “unauthorised” was insulting to its residents as they enjoyed equal rights like others.

“The amount of work we will do in the next five years has not been done in the last twenty years. AAP government takes full responsibility of the colonies notwithstanding the fact that successive BJP and Congress government’s did nothing for so long,” he said.

The AAP Cabinet, which today passed the Jan Lokpal Bill, has decided to introduce six bills, including Code of Criminal Procedure Amendment Bill, Delhi School Education Amendment Bill and Minimum Wages Amendment Bill in this session which is to continue till November 28.