JUST HOURS before the first session of the state Vidhan sabha begins here Tuesday ,Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur expressed optimism about seeing smooth conduct of the listed business as this would be the first session of the new government.
Apart from the newly elected members taking oath, the four-day session will also witness election of the new Speaker. Governor Acharya Devvrat will address the session on Wednesday. The House will see the presence of 23 new faces, including former chief minister Virbhadra Singh’s son Vikramaditya Singh. In a first, the House will have father-son duo seated in the opposition benches.
Yet, the House will miss several veterans such as former chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal, who lost from Sujanpur, Congress seniors like Vidya Stokes, Kaul Singh Thakur, G S Bali, apart from Gulab Singh Thakur, Maheshwar Singh, Ravinder Rav and Randhir Sharma – who also lost the election.
Among new faces, 17 are from the BJP, four from the Congress, who also include Ashish Butail, son of former Speaker B B L Butail and two Independents. Communist Party of India (Marxist) Rakesh Singha will also return to the House after over two decades.
The BJP had already announced the name of Dr Rajeev Bindal, former minister and five -time MLA, for the post of Speaker while Hans Raj, two-time MLA ( Churah) is likely to be named Deputy Speaker. The Congress, which has 21 members in the House, to be seated in the Opposition has appointed four-time MLA and former minister Mukesh Agnihotri as CLP leader.
One of issue, which has become a debate in the BJP legislature party was whether to given status of Leader of opposition to Agnihotri. The CM, when asked, said, “I have not taken a call on it. A decision will be taken as per rules and established norms. It’s too early to say anything.” However ,minister for Parliamentary affairs Suresh Bhardwaj said “ the congress lacks 1/3rd numbers but a decision on this will only be taken by the Speaker to the House”.
When contacted Mukesh Agnihotri said “ the congress was not running for any destination, title or favour. But rules of the Parliamentary framed in 1977 prescribed only 10 per cent strength of the House to declare leader of the Opposition.”
Meanwhile, there are indications that House will generate some heat when motion of thanks on Governor’s address was put to discussion. The BJP MLAs proposes to raise issues such as corruption, non-governance, law and order and the ‘Gudiya’ case.
Primarily the attack of the BJP’s vocal members will be focused on former Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh and his loyalists, including Agnihotri, Asha Kumari and Ram Lal Thakur are likely to counter.
Grand welcome for CM in Dharamshala
Reaching Dharamshala for the first time after taking over as Chief Minister, Jai Ram Thakur received a rousing welcome in the town. Senior BJP leader Shanta Kumar reached the airport to welcome the CM.
Hundreds of supports were lined-up at the airport and on two sides of entire route to Dharamshala to greet Thakur.
He told mediapersons, “It’s a new government, with new hopes and new energy. The people of Himachal Pradesh are happy with the changes. We will rise to expectations of the people.”