Punjab Governor ‘responds’ to PA Speaker, recalls budget session at Aiwan-e-Iqbal today

| Mr Speaker, Governor has prorogued assembly session, finance minister tells Parvez Elahi


LAHORE   –   An interesting situation arose in the Punjab Assembly on Tuesday night when Speaker Ch Parvez Elahi came to chair the sitting but only to know that the session he was chairing had been prorogued by the Punjab Governor.

Immediately after taking the seat just before 10:00pm, Ch Parvez Elahi invited Finance Minister Sardar Ahmad Awais Leghari to present the budget seemingly quite unmindful of his earlier stance that he would not start budget proceedings until and unless the Chief Secretary and the IGP are present in the official gallery.

It was astonishing to see a Speaker who until half an hour back was insisting on his demand as a pre-condition to start the sitting, suddenly changed his mind to allow the finance minister to present the budget.

The speaker was, however, gently told that Punjab Governor had prorogued the 40th session of the Assembly. “Mr Speaker, Punjab Governor has prorogued the Assembly session. Therefore, this proceeding, if continued, will be illegal and unconstitutional”, the finance minister told the chair and left the house along with other colleagues.

“Who is the governor to prorogue the session? He cannot do so. It is illegal and unconstitutional”, said Parvez Elahi in a full-throated voice. Seeing the treasury members leaving the House, the speaker ordered: “The sitting is adjourned till 1:00 pm tomorrow (Wednesday)”.

Although Ch Parvez Elahi pretended to be ignorant of governor’s orders, many believed he rushed to the House to start the sitting after getting the information that Punjab governor had prorogued the session. It was evident from the fact that he did not insist on having the chief secretary and the IGP in the official gallery this time, a demand he had been pressing hard since Monday.

Also, before commencement of the sitting, Punjab Governor Mohammad Balighur Rahman prorogued 40th session of the Punjab Assembly which he had convened for presentation of the provincial budget. The governor called 41st session of the Assembly at 2:00 pm Wednesday (today) at Aiwan-e-Iqbal instead of the Assembly chambers.

Earlier, the government could not present the budget even on the second consecutive day due to the speaker’s unwillingness to start the budget proceedings. The speaker had not invited the finance minister to deliver his budget speech in the Monday’s sitting also.

On Wednesday, informal contacts between the Treasury and the Opposition continued the whole day but the deadlock persisted till the governor prorogued the session.

Sources privy to the negotiations said that the Opposition was divided over the issue. PTI legislators including Mian Aslam Iqbal, Dr Yasmin Rashid and Dr Murad Raas were not in favour of allowing the finance minister to deliver his budget speech. On the other hand, Raja Basharat, Sibtain Khan and Mian Mahmoodur Rashid wanted to come to terms with the government.

Meanwhile, Deputy Speaker Sardar Dost Mazari has shown his willingness to chair the assembly session at Aiwan-e-Iqbal in the absence of the Speaker. “It is my duty to serve the country and the nation”, he told the media here.

Interestingly, there will be two assembly sessions simultaneously taking place on Wednesday (today): one at Aiwan-e-Iqbal and the other at Punjab Assembly building to be chaired by the deputy speaker and the speaker respectively.

In a late-night press conference, Ch Parvez Elahi said that orders of the governor were illegal, and his office had not even received those orders. He said he would chair the sitting on Wednesday (today).

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