The opposition, led by Leader of Opposition Takam Pario walked out of the state assembly in Arunachal Pradesh late on Monday night (March 12), charging the government of Chief Minister Pema Khandu with being voiceless and ineffective.
Prior to its walk out, the opposition walked into the Well of the House to protest. It was the first time an incident of this nature has happened in the political history of Arunachal Pradesh.
The opposition was voicing its dissent over the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the state government and the Education Development Corporation of India Ltd. (EDCIL) to set up 1500 smart classes in secondary and higher secondary schools at a cost of Rs.30 crore under the Chief Minister’s Adhunik Sikshya Yojana programme.
While the state government maintained that the MoU was aimed at bridging the existing gap in the education sector, the opposition questioned the need for signing a MoU on the day of the presentation of the state budget on March 10.
Pario and another opposition lawmaker Nikh Kaim asked Chief Minister Khandu and the treasury benches, “Does it not mean that you had already planned before the budget?”.
Deputy Chief Minister Chowna Mein, however, defended the move, saying that the signing of an MoU was permissible as per budgetary provisions.
Chowna Mein expressed regret over the opposition disruption of proceedings. He said that government is only keen in presenting a pro-poor and pro-farmer budget, besides offering quality education to students across the state.
Pario had earlier walked into the well of the house Nikh Kamin and Tanga Byaling shouting slogans like "nehi hoga, nehi hoga (not possible, not possible)". Repeated pleas by the Speaker and the chief minister to allow assembly proceedings to continue failed to cut ice with the opposition.
“If you continue to resort to corruption, we can’t sit silent,” Pario said. while Chowna Mein continued to present the budget.
“Funds should be distributed equally in each assembly constituency. Arunachal ko sudharo, bachao (Improve and save Arunachal)! Assurances are given on the floor, but schemes are given to individuals only. Eh chitingbaji se kaam nehi chalega. (Such cheating cannot be allowed). How can a government run like this?,” Pario said, when marshals of the assembly switched off the microphones of opposition members. However, they continued to thump their desks and shouting slogans.
Byaling said, "When there is no equal fund distribution, there is no democracy. Is this North Korea? When Kamin asked: “Does Opposition have any role? Is this government pro-people or anti-people?, he asked the speaker. When people of the state belong to the government, how can the chief minister behave like this?”
“The opposition will support all good works of the government, but they must be free from corruption. Every member has equal rights in the house. The allocation to each assembly should be made public. Why party baji only”, Kamin questioned.
Kamin said, "If we don’t demand here, where we will demand? The government is for the public. If the public have no rights, where do they go? Is this democracy when the opposition is not allowed to speak? We all are elected like the treasury bench members. Aaj tak jati pati se tribal state Arunachal mein bhed bhav nehi hua tha (There was no distinction on caste line in this tribal state so far). What type of government is this? Where is the Team Arunachal spirit?”, Kamin asked.
Tado demanded that on what grounds was smart class execution being given to EDCIL?
The opposition termed the MoU a clear case of corruption and said it was not even invited for pre-budget consultations on the issue. It claimed that the state government has made life a living hell for all in Arunachal Pradesh.
The state budget, however, was presented. The 2017-18 budget of Rs. 19,261 crore has a deficit of Rs. 546 crore. The 2016-17 budget had an initial deficit of Rs. 689 crore, which was reduced to Rs. 673 crore.
Chowna Mein said the budget has focused on seven core areas – transparency; sustainable development; equitable and inclusive development; infrastructures; reforms in education and health and new thrust to rural economy for which proposals and schemes worth Rs 22,000 crore have been announced.
A higher allocation has been given to the health and education sectors. Rs. 2,500 crore has been earmarked for youth development.
Chowna Mein presented the budget in the presence of Chief Secretary Satya Gopal and Development Commissioner (Finance) Ashish Kundra.
Chief Minister Khandu also launched a website – arunchalbudget.in in the presence of lawmakers. The website has a provision for giving participatory feedback.