HP: Petrol, diesel prices and farmers' stir may add fuel to Assembly session

Shimla: Himachal Pradesh may not have been hit by the ongoing agitation of the farmers against three controversial laws but the state Assembly is all set to witness prayer tempers and storm over the issue, fuelled by rising prices of petrol and diesel—affecting everyone, particularly low-income groups.

The budget session of the state assembly will begin on February 26 with Governor Bandru Dattatreya's address to the House at 11 am.

State Assembly Speaker Vipin Singh Parmar said " all preparations have been done for a smooth session to pass state's budget, and also deliberate on issues of public importance. There will be strict observance of the Covid -19 SoPs to ensure the safety of the MLAs, Ministers, Chief Minister and the entire staff of the Assembly".

The ministers have been advised to cut down their staff strengths coming to the House, and media strength at the Press gallery has been reduced to 32, half of the seating capacity.

No visitors will be allowed to come to the assembly to watch the proceeding, he said.

An all-parties meeting has been convened here on Thursday to seek the cooperation of the ruling party and opposition in the smooth conduct of the proceedings by maintaining "rule of business" in deliberations by the members. But, the mood in the opposition is quite aggressive.

"There have been a complete collapse of the state government machinery during the Covid -19 crisis, nearly 1,000 people have died of corona and an equal number by suicides. Spurt in the cases of crime against women, particularly rapes, has alarmed everyone," says Mukesh Agnihotri, leader of opposition.

He questioned the state government over cancelling the winter session of the Assembly last year after notification had been issued. It's simply because Jai Ram Thakur had no courage to face the House.

Agnihotri lists out several issues including adamant issues of the central government on the farmers' bill when the whole country was backing the agitating farmers, sitting on Dharna at Delhi borders for the past 91 days.

Rising petrol and diesel prices has hit almost every section of the society and this reminds the congress of the days when the BJP leaders including Modi, used to make noise from the rooftops to criticise Dr Manmohan Singh, then Prime Minister for petrol price hitting at Rs 62 per litre.

The opposition has also accused the BJP government of misusing government machinery and power to influence recent panchayat and local bodies elections. Several office-bearers who were backed by the congress were kidnaped,pressured and lured by the BJP leaders to change loyalties.

The development has come to a standstill in the state. All kinds of mafias --mining, liquor and drug mafia are active under the nose of the government and ministers. The government has raised huge loans for unproductive works and luxuries, alleges Agnihotri threatening to corner the Chief Minister on his failures during the past three-year rule.

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