ITANAGAR, March 12 - Arunachal Pradesh Assembly today witnessed the presentation of annual Budget for the financial year 2018-19 amid protest and walkout by Opposition People’s Party of Arunachal (PPA) members.
Soon after the Question Hour when Deputy Chief Minister Chowna Mein, also the Minister in-charge of Finance rose for presentation of the Supplementary Demands for Grants for the year 2017-18 followed by presentation of the 2018-19 Budget proposals, Leader of Opposition Takam Pario stood up and demanded that the Government including Chief Minister Pema Khandu and his deputy Mein give a ‘clarification’ on the Smart Class project as reflected in last year’s Budget, prior to presenting the Budget for the coming fiscal.
Pario contended that the State Government had entered into an agreement with a firm Educational Consultants India Limited (EdCIL) by signing an MoU for implementation of the 1,500 Smart Classrooms in secondary and higher secondary schools across Arunachal on the day of presentation of Budget proposals (on March 10, 2017) itself for which Rs 30 crore was earmarked under Chief Minister’s Adhunik Shiksha Yojana. He accused the Government of ‘misleading’ the House.
As the Deputy Speaker Tumke Bagra in the chair disallowed the Opposition leader saying the matter could be raised after the Budget presentation, an angry Pario joined by members Tanga Byaling and Nikh Kamin trooped into the well of the House and engaged in slogan shouting, insisting for the clarification.
“When such illegal and unauthorised award of work could be given without the proposal being passed by the Assembly, the further placing of such proposal before the Assembly in the name of Budget 2018-19 is unwarranted and therefore, this is the fit case to be discussed before the Budget is placed for discussion,” Pario maintained.
Despite the repeated pleas from the chair asking them to take their seats and assuring that they would be given ample time to raise their concerns, the opposition members continued debating. While Markio Tado questioned why and how the work order was issued to EdCIL on the day of budget presentation, Kamin quipped where has the ‘Team Arunachal’ gone.
As the pandemonium continued for 25 minutes, Speaker TN Thongdong, who took the chair by then, adjourned the House for 10 minutes after asking the Chief Minister to give a statement on the issue.
After the break, the Chief Minister said, “In order to bridge the gap in education sector, it was proposed in last year’s budget to start the 1,500 Smart Classes in secondary and higher secondary schools across the State for which a sum of Rs 30 crore was earmarked under the Chief Minister’s Adhunik Shiksha Yojana. It was clearly mentioned in the Budget document about the agreement with EdCIL for the Smart Class project implementation. Therefore, there is no question of misleading the House.”
But not satisfied with the CM’s reply, the unyielding opposition members continued debating and shouting with Pario maintaining that “assurances are given in the floor of the House but schemes are given to individuals. How could the Govt continue to do like this?”
While Speaker Thongdok requested the members to “respect the sanctity of the House”, Nikh Kamin said: “Hum logon ka voice kaun sunega? Yeha nahi bolega to kahan bolega?(Who will listen to us? Where will we speak if not here?)
A marshal put off the mike of the opposition members, but Pario and Byaling implored the Speaker to give back their mikes. The members then staged walkout from the Assembly around 12 noon.
But the entire opposition members returned and attended the House proceedings later in the day.