Chandigarh: Punjab CM Captain Amarinder Singh on Monday said while his government welcomed healthy criticism, the opposition should refrain from criticism for the sake of criticism, and all members should follow the basic etiquettes and courtesies of the legislative procedures in the House.
Addressing the Punjab Vidhan Sabha legislators at the start of the two-day Special Orientation Programme, organised by the Punjab Vidhan Sabha in collaboration with Mahatma Gandhi State Institute for Public Administration, the Chief Minister appealed to the members of the opposition to play a constructive and positive role in the larger public interest. Constructive opposition of the government’s policies and programmes would help achieve better results in implementing its pro-people initiatives efficaciously.
All members should follow etiquettes and legislative procedures, traditions and conventions laid down for discussion in the House, he said, calling upon the MLAs to treat the august house with the respect it deserves.
Stressing the government’s approach of working in collaboration with all stakeholders in the interest of the state’s welfare, Amarinder expressed the hope that the Opposition would also make full use of the opportunity, along with the ruling party members.
Pointing out that the sessions, to be addressed by several specialists and experts, would be of special benefit to first timers to acquaint them with the rules and conduct of business in the House, the Chief Minister said it would also help educate them about the proper legislative procedures and the correct manner of raising issues relating to their constituency in the House.
The discussions will be useful in imbuing discipline in the members and teach them how to make optimum use of time in the interest of the people, he said, adding that these will also help MLAs become aware of their rights during the question hour, zero hour besides routine Legislative Business.
He called for a collective value-based ethical approach by members while raising public concerns of their respective assembly constituencies, and Punjab as a whole. He stressed the need for the members to imbibe the legislative skills, basic etiquettes and courtesies of the legislative procedures, traditions and conventions of the House while taking up crucial issues in public interest.
He exhorted the members to participate actively in the programme and ask a lot of questions to get better clarity on all issues governing legislative business. The Chief Minister also urged the Speaker, being the custodian of the House, to chalk out the session agenda in consultation with the members so that the legislative business could be transacted more meaningfully, in the larger interest of the people.
Recalling his experience as Member of Parliament, the he said late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi used to hold regular orientation programmes for MPs, and remembered participating in one such session in Surajkund. He said he gained immensely from the experience.
Earlier, formally welcoming the Chief Minister, the leader of the House, and all members, Speaker Rana K P Singh said the initiative, mooted by Captain Amarinder, was aimed at transference of knowledge on legislative traditions and practices to the new members. The programme, he said, would help equip the members to fulfill their roles and responsibilities in the interest of the people – the real custodians of Parliamentary democracy.
Amid the changing parliamentary scenario, such programmes are critical to the development of the House not only as a forum for debate but also as an agent of change, said Singh. He underlined the importance of the ruling and opposition members working in tandem to ensure that the Speaker is able to discharge his duties efficiently and the House runs smoothly.
Exhorting the members to take full advantage of the programme, the Speaker said it would go a long way in creating a congenial atmosphere for healthy discussion and debate in the House.
Welcoming the initiative, Leader of the Opposition Sukhpal Singh Khaira said it would strengthen the legislature, considered to be the strongest pillar of democracy. It would be particularly helpful for first-time legislators, he added. Khaira stressed the need to hold sufficient number of sittings of the House to allow members to raise the issues concerning their respective constituencies.
Addressing the members, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Brahm Mohindra said such programmes were vital to nurturing the spirit of parliamentary democracy. Recalling that in the last session of the Assembly, a first-time MLA had crossed the floor of the House in a wrong manner, he said it was imperative to provide them with the necessary training in the etiquettes and procedures of the House.
Mohindra urged the members to go through the Vidhan Sabha handbook carefully and also called upon them to take matters related to the various Vidhan Sabha Committees seriously. He also underlined the need for the civil and police administration to give due respect to the MLAs, who were even higher in protocol than the chief secretary.