The Himachal Pradesh Assembly witnessed pandemonium during a debate on changing the name of schemes after former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. BJP members expressed dissatisfaction over the reply of Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh on the matter leading to noisy scenes in the House.

Amid the din, Speaker Brij Bihari Lal Butail adjourned the House. However, later, the BJP members said they had staged a walkout from the House.

Earlier, replying to the discussion initiated by Rajeev Bindal, Virbhadra Singh defended the decision to rechristen some of the schemes named after former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and said that this did not mean disrespect to any leader. He said that the then State Govt had renamed the centrally sponsored schemes named. Chief Minister said that the name of Atal Swasthya Sewa Ambulance scheme was changed to Rashtriya Swarthya Sewa to bring uniformity in the name throughout the country.

Another centrally sponsored scheme, the Atal School Uniform scheme, which was partly funded from Sarv Shikahsa Abhiyan (SSA) funds, had been named as Mahatma Gandhi Vardi Yojana.

BJP member Rajiv Bindal said Vajpayee was a tall and respected leader and the state government had not set a healthy precedent by renaming schemes named after him.

Himachal Lokhit Party leader Maheshwar Singh said had Vajpayee been fit and alert he would have scolded the previous BJP government for naming the schemes after him as there were “scams” in some of these programmes.

He alleged ambulances under Atal Swasthya Sewa Ambulance scheme were purchased at a higher price and demanded a probe. Even while responding on Maheshwar Singh’s allegation, Chief Minister indicated to order probe into the purchase of ambulances.