SRINAGAR, May 10: Senior BJP leader and former Deputy Chief Minister Dr Nirmal Singh was today elected as Speaker of the Legislative Assembly.
Though the Opposition had nominated Usman Majeed as their candidate but Dr Singh was elected as Speaker of the Assembly by voice vote. Name of Usman was proposed by NC MLA Abdul Majid Bhat Larmi.
Minister for Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs, Syed Basharat Ahmed Bukhari moved the motion for election of Dr Singh as the Speaker which was seconded by Deputy Chief Minister Kavinder Gupta.
Deputy Speaker Legislative Assembly, Nazir Ahmad Gurezi, who chaired the proceedings, sought the consent of the House on voice vote for election of Singh as speaker. Members of PDP-BJP and its allies voted in support of the motion. However, Opposition camp abstained from the voting.
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Singh, who was earlier seated with the BJP MLAs, was escorted to the Chair by Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufit and Law Minister Syed Basharat Bukhari. Immediately after the election, the Speaker commenced the proceedings of the House.
Congratulating the Speaker, Chief Minister said that there is no doubt that the J&K Assembly is a most powerful in the country. “We have different situation here. In our state the government has its role but the opposition has to play important role. I am hopeful that the Speaker will facilitate all in the House and will lead the House with full responsibility,” the CM said.
She said that in democracy one cannot ignore the Opposition. “The Opposition must say what they want to say”, she said adding the Speaker should give time to ruling party but also do justice with the Opposition.
Mehbooba said Opposition has to act as a buffer between Government and the people by channelizing dissent.
The Chief Minister said the Opposition by bringing to fore the dissent of the people actually helps the Government in its due discharge of duties. She said yesterday at the All Party Meeting also that she appealed the Opposition to help the Government by reaching out to people in their own way and channelize their grievances to the Government.
Mehbooba reminded the House of her role as the opposition leader during which she reached every corner of the State which indirectly helped the Government of the day to further improve their service delivery and address the issues. “The Opposition at present should play its role by becoming a bridge between people and the Government to put across their grievances and difficulties so that these are discussed at appropriate fora like Assembly”, she said. She assured that Government would extend the Opposition full support.
The Chief Minister said dissent is the essence of democracy and people in both Government and Opposition should be tolerant enough to criticism and opposition. She said the position of Presiding Officer of the House demands that the voice of every section and thought be heard and addressed appropriately which needs patience and tolerance.
Complimenting Dr Nirmal on assuming the responsibility of the Speaker of the House, Mehbooba said over the past more than three years he discharged his responsibilities without any prejudice and with utmost tolerance. She said being a man of letters, Dr Singh earned respect and accolades from every section of the society. She hoped that he would further elevate this position with his knowledge, gentle behavior and accommodative attitude.
Chief Minister also had a word of appreciation for the former Speaker and now Deputy Chief Minister, Kavinder Gupta. She praised the maturity and wisdom with which he conducted the business of the House during all this time.
Mehbooba complimented Deputy Speaker, Nazir Ahmad Khan for his acumen and understanding while discharging his responsibilities.
Congratulating Singh, BJP senior leader and Housing Minister, Sat Sharma spoke about his statesmanship as Deputy Chief Minister of the State.
Senior NC leader, Mian Altaf, in his address, congratulated the newly-elected Speaker. He said there would be situations when the Speaker has to rise above party lines and take decisions for the welfare of the State.
He also expressed hope that the Speaker would provide equal opportunities to all the Members to highlight the issues of public interest.
MLAs M Y Tarigami, and Er Abdul Rashid also congratulated the Speaker and wished him success in running the House smoothly, while respecting the sentiments of the members in raising issues of public concern.
Speaker, Dr Nirmal Singh expressed his gratitude to all the Members of the House for unanimously electing him to the Speaker’s Chair. He assured the members that he will try his best to come up to their expectations by way of strengthening the credibility of the Speaker’s institution.
Later speaking to reporters, Dr Singh supported the Army chief General Bipin Rawat’s statement that “freedom” is not possible as “they will always fight those who seek Azadi in Kashmir. He said that Army chief has given the message that there is no space for violence in Kashmir. “Whatever Army chief has said, it is a clear message that India is a democracy and there is no space for violence,” he said.
Dr Singh also appealed the people to come forward and sit together. “Let us raise the issues. Let us resolve them,” he said.