Chandigarh: Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) locked horns over the issue of "Operation Lotus’’ since Wednesday night in Punjab after Governor Banwarilal Purohit cancelled the special assembly session called on Thursday to bring a confidence motion in favour of AAP.
On Thursday, the AAP legislators took out a protest march against the governor’s decision to cancel the session, while the BJP held a counter-protest against what it termed as "AAP’s theatrics to hide its failures."
Prior to the AAP MLAs’ march to Raj Bhawan, the governor’s residence, chief minister Bhagwant Mann convened a Cabinet meeting, following which he announced that the session would now be held on September 27 with a revised list of business.
Mann further said that the AAP would also move the Supreme Court against the ``arbitrary and anti-democratic decision’’ of the governor to cancel the permission to hold a special session after giving permission for it.
Mann also accused the Congress and the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) of working hand in hand with the BJP in the BJP's "Operation Lotus" to destabilise the AAP government.
Prior to the Cabinet meeting, Mann held a meeting with AAP MLAs to discuss the party’s strategy and decided to take out a march to Raj Bhawan to register their protest.
The AAP MLAs, whose protest march was stopped by police ahead of Raj Bhawan, held banners against the BJP reading "killer of democracy"; "Congress-BJP killing democracy’’ and ``Stop operation Lotus."
It may be recalled that the governor had on Wednesday thwarted the AAP government’s move to summon a special session to consider a confidence motion in its favour, saying that he had sought legal opinion on the issue and that the House rules did not allow such a motion. Earlier, the main opposition party, Congress, as well as the BJP, had also approached the governor with their same objections against this session.
The AAP legislators held that the session was called in the wake of BJP’s attempts of horse trading offering Rs 25 crore to several of them in a bid to topple the six-month old AAP government under its ``operation Lotus''. It may also be recalled that they had also lodged a police case against some unknown BJP leaders in this regard.
The counter-protest march by BJP leaders and workers was stopped by Chandigarh police using barricading and water cannons near their Sector 37 office when they began their march to Gherao, the chief minister's residence.
However, after about an hour-long demonstration against the AAP government, the BJP leaders, including state president Ashwani Sharma and Sunil Jakhar, were detained by the police. The BJP leaders termed the AAP’s allegations as baseless and accused the AAP leaders of indulging in theatrics.
Backing the governor’s decision to cancel the special session, the Punjab Congress chief, Amarinder Singh Raja, questioned AAP’s protest march and held that the ruling party was trying to divert people’s attention from rumblings within AAP.