Phoolka sparks row for attending Punjab Assembly session after quitting as MLA
Months after tendering his resignation as MLA, senior advocate H S Phoolka Wednesday attended the Punjab Assembly Budget Session even as opposition Shiromani Akali Dal took a swipe at him outside the House, questioning if he is still a legislator. Phoolka, who had quit the Aam Aadmi Party almost four months ago, said he was still an MLA and the Akali Dal is "troubled" because he was working towards "freeing" the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) from "political influence".
In reply to a question from media, Phoolka said, "My resignation has not been accepted yet. So I am still an MLA. What is troubling the Akali Dal is this letter (written by the Centre). As far as the SGPC is concerned, we want to free it from political influence. It is a religious body, it should do the religious job and its control should be handed over to religious people." Known for fighting cases of 1984 "anti-Sikh" riot victims, Phoolka attended the second day of the Punjab Assembly Session here and raised the issue of holding the SGPC elections. The SGPC is the apex religious body of the Sikhs.
Participating in the discussion on the Governor's address, Phoolka informed the House he had received a letter from the Centre in reply to a letter to the Prime Minister's office, stating that the tenure of the present SGPC was over in December 2016. The Supreme Court lawyer sought from the House to pass a resolution requesting the central government to appoint a chief commissioner for holding the SGPC elections at the earliest.
Phoolka also raised in the House the issue of Justice Gurnam Singh report on desecration of religious texts and firing incidents in Nakodar, Punjab, in 1986. Speaker Rana K P Singh informed the House that the commission report was tabled in 2001 but the Action Taken Report (ATR) had not been submitted to which Phoolka said that both report and ATR should have been tabled simultaneously.
Phoolka, former Leader of Opposition of the Punjab Assembly had tendered his resignation as MLA from Dakha assembly seat (Ludhiana) in October 2018 over the alleged inaction by the present state government on Justice Ranjit Singh Commission report on sacrilege incidents. However, the Speaker was yet to take a call on his resignation.
Later talking to media, the Akali Dal took potshots at Phoolka, saying his presence in the House has "confused" them and urged the Speaker to clear the status about legislator's resignation. "Is he wedded to Vidhan Sabha or divorced from it? We do not know. We are as confused as you are," Akali leader Bikram Singh Majithia told outside the House when asked about Phoolka's presence in the Assembly.
(With inputs from agencies.)
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