Assam’s government on Friday accepted a request from the opposition Congress to postpone a discussion on population control within the Muslim community, although President Biswajit Daimary allowed it.
As Congress was about to stage a walkout as its demand was not met, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pijush Hazarika said the government was ready to postpone the discussion. Friday is the last day of the budget session.
The Speaker adjourned for five minutes after the Minister’s statement.
When the House convened, Speaker Daimary said, “I am here as a mediator. If both parties (the Treasury and the opposition benches) come to a unanimous decision, I am happy… The Speaker has some discretion, but what the House feels convenient, it should be done.”
Earlier, when the House met for the day, the Speaker said that a discussion of a special motion by a member, moved by Congressman Sherman Ali Ahmed on August 10, would take place as the first order of the day and that the Chief Minister place the government’s response after the discussion.
Ahmed, in his special motion, had said that the birth rate among the Muslim population of Assam, especially those residing in the riverine areas, would decrease if measures were taken to spread education and develop health facilities and communication means.
Deputy Opposition Leader Rakibul Hussain of Congress and AIUDF MP Aminul Islam pointed out that discussion of a motion or special bill of an MP cannot take place on a day when discussion of government business is registered.
Mr. Hussain proposed that the discussion could take place in a different session as a similar issue was raised by Ahmed earlier in this current session.
President Daimary said he announced in the House on August 10 that the motion would be discussed and Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma would respond on Friday, and no one raised any objections then.
Although the President authorized the discussion, the Minister of Parliamentary Affairs accepted the proposal of the Congress and declared that the discussion would be postponed.
On July 19, Congressman Ahmed had raised a similar issue, under a different provision of the assembly, suggesting various measures to bring down the birth rate among Muslims, especially those settled in the Char-Chaporis. (river areas).
Ahmed had proposed to establish educational institutes, stop child marriages, improve health and communication services, provide jobs in the public and private sectors according to the representation of the population and to facilitate the availability of birth control measures among women.
The Chief Minister, responding to Ahmed that day, said his government had no objections to the proposals, except those related to job creation, as it was to be based on merit and not on the representation of population.
He had said that the House would adopt this resolution without further debate if he made the relevant amendments. As a result, the congressman introduced the special motion on August 10.
According to the 2011 census, Muslims make up 34.22% of Assam’s total population of 3.12 crores and they are the majority in several districts.
Mr Sarma had in June urged the Muslim community to adopt a “decent family planning policy” for population control to reduce poverty.
(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)