The opposition on Monday slammed the Punjab government for not tabling a bill to counter the Centre's new farm laws on the first day of a special assembly session, which also saw a dharna in the House by Aam Aadmi Party MLAs.
The Aam Aadmi Party MLAs spent the night in the state legislative assembly building demanding copies of the Bill which the state's Congress government is now expected to introduce on Tuesday.
Earlier, Finance and acting Parliamentary Affairs Minister Manpreet Singh Badal said the state government is consulting constitutional experts on the issue of legislation to counter the new farm laws and added copies of various bills to be tabled during the two-day session will be given to the opposition parties by the evening.
Even after the adjournment of the session for the day on Monday afternoon, AAP legislators continued their dharna, demanding copies of the Bill to counter the legislation enacted by the Centre.
Late in the night, Leader of Opposition and AAP leader Harpal Cheema said, "We will sit here through the night and continue the protest as we are yet get copies of this and other Bills to be tabled during the session.
"AAP will support the legislation against the farm laws but the government should have given us its copies. We haven't got copies of other bills as well. How can our legislators discuss and debate important issues?" Cheema said.
As the assembly area had to be sanitised and sealed overnight in view of the COVID-19 situation, the AAP MLAs including few women legislators of the party were asked to shift outside the House.
Earlier, the AAP members were persuaded by the Speaker, Deputy Speaker and Vidhan Sabha officials to end their protest, but they remained adamant on their demand.
Notably, four years ago when Congress was in opposition in Punjab, their party MLAs had spent the night in the Punjab assembly seeking a debate on the no-confidence motion against the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal-Bharatiya Janata Party combine, which was defeated by voice vote, and had refused to vacate the House till the government gave an assurance that a discussion will be allowed on it.
Meanwhile, in the state assembly, Shiromani Akali Dal said the Bill to counter the Centre's farm laws should have been introduced on Monday itself.
A delegation of the party met Speaker Rana K P Singh in the evening and objected to not getting copies of the Bills to be tabled in the assembly. The SAD leaders termed it a "murder of democracy".
Earlier reacting to it, Manpreet Singh Badal had said copies of various bills to be tabled during the session will be given to the opposition parties by the evening.
The two-day special assembly session began with obituary references as Chief Minister Amarinder Singh led the House in paying homage to the farmers who lost their lives during the ongoing agitation against the farm laws.
Amritsar East MLA Navjot Singh Sidhu attended the assembly session for the first time since his resignation from the state Cabinet last year.
SAD MLAs rode tractors to reach the Vidhan Sabha in protest against the farm laws. They tore copies of the Centre's farm laws.
AAP MLAs staged a protest outside the assembly complex wearing black capes as they tore and burnt copies of the farm laws.
The House was adjourned for an hour by Speaker Rana K P Singh after the assembly took up obituary references. The House reassembled for nearly 15 minutes before being adjourned till Tuesday.
Referring to the legislation which the Amarinder Singh government wants to bring, SAD member Gurpratap Singh Wadala said it seems the state government "does not have clarity" over the issue.
The main bill against the Centre's farm laws should have been first tabled and discussed in the House, he said.
"The entire Punjab is watching what the government is doing. The legislation to counter the Centre's farm laws should have been the first business of the House," said the SAD leader.
Senior SAD leader Bikram Singh Majithia told reporters that a "fixed match is going on between the Congress government in Punjab and the Centre".
"It seems the state government is under the Centre's pressure," he said, adding that the government is not clear what it intends to do.
Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal told the members in the House that they will get copies of bills to be tabled in the House in the evening.
He, however, said, "As far as countering farm laws is concerned, the government is already in consultation with constitutional experts."
As soon as the session began, Amarinder Singh led the House in paying homage to all farmers who lost their lives during the ongoing agitation.