Taunts fly from both sides of aisle in Punjab Assembly

Updated June 19, 2019

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Fayyazul Hasan Chauhan and Awais Leghari launch tirades against each other. — APP/File
Fayyazul Hasan Chauhan and Awais Leghari launch tirades against each other. — APP/File

LAHORE: Speaker Pervaiz Elahi on Tuesday made Mr Fayyazul Hasan Chauhan to launch a frontal attack on the PML-N and its member Mr Awais Leghari when the latter taunted the ruling PTI for what he said its inappropriate steps like making Mr Usman Buzdar as the chief minister instead of the “golden-era Chaudhry of Gujrat (Mr Elahi).

Mr Leghari withdrew his remarks about the PTI government and its leaders which the speaker expunged and which were disliked by the treasury benches. And after making sarcastic remarks, he left before the speaker gave the rostrum to the former information minister Chauhan.

The speaker had earlier calmed down the agitated PTI members especially women by asking them: “We have Mr Chauhan to reply. You please calm down.” And Mr Chauhan did ably. The speaker even made him continue with the onslaught when he looked like finishing it.

Mr Leghari, a former federal minister, had begun by saying that the budget was presented by the finance minister but the words were of Mr Salman Shah who did not know the people of Punjab. He said Mr Imran Khan’s 100-day programme had failed and he appeared like a political project manager in his mid-night speech on the day of the federal budget.

He claimed that the PTI government had failed on many fronts, creating more fault lines for the country. Counting what he said many failures, he said one such was making the golden era chief minister Pervaiz Elahi as the Punjab Assembly speaker and Mr Usman Buzdar as the chief minister.

He taunted that the sister of a federal minister was given job on her recommendation. The speaker promptly said the prime minister had reprimanded her and had the action reversed.

Mr Leghari said the government culled the local government system and pushed hundreds of thousands of people below the poverty line. “Mr speaker, do not allow passage of the bill till the creation of Bahawalpur and South Punjab provinces,” he concluded and left the house.

Before asking Mr Chauhan to reply, the speaker said Mr Leghari’s wish of not allowing passage of the budget would not be fulfilled.

“He is escaping after reciting his ghazal (poetry),” was Mr Chauhan’s first taunt. He reminded Mr Leghari that his father was the president of Pakistan and he himself served as the federal minister but his family did not do anything good for South Punjab. The South Punjab landlords were not digesting the appointment of a smaller tribe person, Mr Buzdar, as the chief minister, he said.

He said South Punjab Forest Company was involved in billions of rupees fraud, accusing Mr Leghari as a beneficiary and saying this “corruption” would be revealed in near future. He asked as to what the PML-N had done for the poor in its nearly 40 years rule. “Was the province being ruled by some Haseena Wajid or Narendra Modi in the past 40 years,” he wondered.

A PML-N senior MPA Ms Haseena protested over the mention of Haseena to the amusement of the members. But the speaker calmed her down by saying Mr Chauhan was mentioning Haseena of Bangladesh and not her. A number of members from the PTI and the opposition parties, including the PML-N and the PPP, also took part in the debate. The treasury members praised the budget and those from the opposition criticised it. But almost all invariably demanded funds and initiatives for their respective constituencies.The session was adjourned till Wednesday (today) afternoon.

Published in Dawn, June 19th, 2019