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Punjab: Bhagwant Mann govt wins confidence vote; Congress, BJP abstain

91 ruling party MLAs voted in support of motion

Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann speaks during the ongoing session of Punjab Legislative Assembly | PTI Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann speaks during the ongoing session of Punjab Legislative Assembly | PTI

The Punjab Assembly on Monday passed with voice vote the confidence motion, moved by Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann last week, with the Congress and the BJP abstaining from the voting.

The Bhagwant Mann-led AAP government won the vote of confidence with a thumping majority as 91 of the ruling party legislators voted in support of the motion.

The confidence motion was moved by Mann on September 27 after the ruling party accused the BJP of trying to topple the state government. The BJP already announced to boycott the assembly session as it had accused the AAP government of violating the Constitution by bringing the confidence motion.

Congress MLAs staged a walkout on another issue from the House.

AAP MLAs hit out at the BJP, saying after Delhi their "Operation Lotus", a bid to topple the government, also failed in Punjab and accused the Congress of being in cahoots with the saffron party.

At the end of lengthy discussion on the confidence motion, Speaker Kultar Singh Sandhwan put it to vote in the House on the concluding day of the brief assembly session.

After Mann's concluding speech, the Speaker asked MLAs present to raise hands who were in support of and then asked those who were against the motion of confidence.

Announcing the results, the Speaker said 91 AAP MLAs supported the motion.

He also said one of the three SAD MLAs who was present in the House and a lone BSP MLA "did not oppose the motion".

No Congress, BJP, and lone Independent MLA was present in the House at the time of voting.

AAP has 92 MLAs in the House which includes the Speaker.

"So, 93 MLAs have supported the motion and none is against it. Thus, the motion is unanimously passed," the Speaker said.

However, later Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) MLA Manpreet Singh Ayali, who was present during the voting, said he had opposed the motion. He also said that he informed the Speaker about his decision, and that from the day one, the party was against it.

Ayali and BSP MLA Nachhatar Pal, later, wrote to the Speaker and claimed that they voted against the motion but their votes were counted in favour of the state government under "some misconception". They asked the Speaker that their votes be counted against the motion and urged him to set the record right.

The BSP is an ally of SAD and both had jointly contested the 2022 Punjab assembly polls.

In the 117-member Assembly, the AAP has 92 MLAs, Congress 18, SAD 3, BJP 2, BSP 1 while 1 is an Independent.

The AAP had earlier claimed that at least 10 of its MLAs were approached by the BJP with an offer of Rs 25 crore to each of them in a bid to topple the six-month-old government under its "Operation Lotus".

As the discussion began, the Congress MLAs staged a walkout as they were demanding that the Speaker should allot them time to speak and raise issues during the Zero Hour.

The two BJP MLAs Ashwani Sharma and Jangi Lal Mahajan -- have been boycotting the session since its start.

Taking part in the discussion on Monday, Mann said that people of Punjab reposed their trust in AAP this time and that trust was not a commodity, which can be purchased.

Mann questioned why the opposition Congress and BJP ran away from discussion. Hitting out at BJP, he alleged that "loktantra" (democracy) is being made into "paisatantra" and 'loot tantra'."

On "Operation Lotus", Mann alleged that attempts are being made to throttle democracy.

"The country faces two threats -- one internal and another external. Internal threat is very dangerous, this is what is going on in the country at this time," he said.

The CM said that 18 Congress MLAs, who represent at least 12-13 lakh voters, walked out from the House but they should have remained present and supported the motion because their party in many states has seen legislators joining the BJP.

He said that people have always upheld the democratic values but now the Congress and BJP are trying to derail democracy by grabbing power through the back door.

Mann said the confidence motion in the state assembly was necessitated as both the parties joined hands to topple the democratically elected government in the state.

The BJP is mastering art to form government in the states through back doors in the country and unfortunately, despite being its worst victim, the Congress is supporting it, he alleged.

The day is not far when the Congress will open offices in the country with the tag MLAs on sale, he said.

Slamming Leader of Opposition Partap Singh Bajwa, Mann said it is unfortunate he had become a puppet in the hands of the saffron party. He said the senior Congress leader will be now known as Partap Singh "Bhajpa" after his dubious role to scuttle democracy in the state has been exposed.

After the motion was passed, Mann said, Faith of people has won in Punjab and the forces who had tried to purchase the verdict of masses have got a major blow.

SAD MLA Ayali said he opposed the motion, stating that there was no need for it as nobody demanded from the AAP to prove the majority. He said if money was offered to AAP MLAs, then proof of claims should have been provided.

BSP MLA Pal, while speaking on the confidence motion, said a very good issue has been brought by the AAP government, amid thumping of desks by the treasury benches.

Your issue is very good. I was listening to all MLAs and all are united, he said in the House as he criticized the BJP for allegedly indulging in buying MLAs to form its government.

Earlier, AAP MLA Sheetal Angural was the first one to take part in the discussion on Monday.

Angural said he has submitted to the State Vigilance Bureau all details, including call recording and mobile phone number and names, besides a "sting" he did when three people who are advocates of the high court, who claimed to be meeting him on BJP's behalf, had met him recently and offered money and position under "Operation Lotus".

Angural claimed that he also did a sting in which those who met him could be heard as saying that they will "arrange" a meeting with a senior BJP leader "who will seal the deal".

Hitting out at the Congress, Angural and some other AAP MLAs said that Congress was playing the role of BJP's "B" team.

AAP MLA Dinesh Chadha also hit out at the Congress and said, "We saw what happened in Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Goa. The party whose MLAs have switched over the most should have said that they support this confidence motion. Rather, Congress MLAs claim there is no provision in the Constitution for bringing confidence motion."

We have all the proof, claimed Chadha as he was referring to the offer of Rs 25 crore each to AAP legislators.

Earlier, after the Speaker announced the start of the debate on the confidence motion, the Congress legislators rose from their seats and demanded more time for Zero Hour to allow them to raise the issues of Punjab.

When the Speaker did not agree, they trooped to the well of the House and then staged a walkout.

Later, the House was adjourned sine die. 

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