Rohani’s deviousness was of little help to Chauhan Government
Posted December 13, 2011on:
The chronic deviousness of Madhya Pradesh Assembly Speaker Ishwardas Rohani was once again at play when the Opposition Congress party submitted a motion “expressing want of confidence” in the Shivraj Singh Chauhan government, along with the relevant charges against the council of ministers. Rohani could not stall a discussion on the motion but he did certainly succeed in blunting the sharp edge of the allegations by his machinations. This, though, was not the first time that Rohani had resorted to disingenuousness in conducting the proceedings.
Rule 143 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Madhya Pradesh Vidhan Sabha mandates that “if the Speaker is of the opinion that the motion is in order, he shall read the motion to the House and shall request those members who are in favour of leave being granted to rise in their places, and if not less than one-tenth of the total number of members rise accordingly, the Speaker shall intimate that the leave is granted.” Then the Speaker shall fix a day for taking up the motion.
Rohani did not follow the procedure as laid down in Rule 143 but just announced that the motion would be taken up a week later, on November 28 and 29. His subsequent actions indicated that Rohani probably did it for having his personal negotiations with the chief minister. A prompt discussion in the House over the admissibility of the motion could have deprived him much of the advantage.
On November 28, instead of inviting a debate on the motion, Rohani entertained the ruling party’s views on the admissibility of the motion. The treasury benches were already prepared to raise objections to certain references in the charge sheet to what they claimed related to the Chauhan government’s first term. The Opposition members, on the other hand, argued that the matters raised in the charge sheet were very much relevant even today.
Even as the two sides were debating the issue, Rohani read out his five-page ruling, which he had already prepared and brought to the House. It was like a judge delivering the judgement even before the prosecution and the defence had concluded their arguments. He ruled that the issues related to the previous term of Shivraj Singh Chauhan could not be taken up in the motion.
There were some issues which Rohani appeared much too eager to avoid in order to spare embarrassment to the chief minister. The lack of experience of Leader of Opposition Ajay Singh in procedural matters resulted in this setback to the Opposition. Instead of pinpointing a few names and dates, the issues could easily have been rephrased.
The charge-sheet, for instance, refers to the origin of the “dumper scam” involving the chief minister and his wife Sadhna Singh. It did originate in the first term of Chauhan but it has not yet finally been closed. For instance, the farmers whose lands were forcibly taken for handing over to the JP Associates (which later gifted the dumpers to Sadhna Singh Chauhan) were fired upon by the police and the matter is still far from settled. A slight rephrasing of the allegation could have foiled Rohani’s machinations.
Another allegation, objected to by the treasury benches and endorsed by the Speaker, related to Ajay Vishnoi who was minister of health and family welfare in Chauhan’s first term and had presided over a massive bungling of public money in the department. Ajay Vishnoi is now minister of animal husbandry. The allegation could have been easily rephrased to read that minister of health Narottam Mishra is trying to hush up the bungling in the department by keeping at key positions some of the officials indicted by agencies like Economic Offences Wing (EOW) for misappropriation of funds. Then there is the huge bungling in the purchase of electricity which started soon after the Chauhan government was formed and is still continuing.
By avoiding adherence to Rule 143, Rohani could spare only a little bit of embarrassment to the chief minister but he could not provide the same protection to other members of the council of ministers. The charge-sheet levels categorical charges of corruption in various departments. Instead of coming up with satisfactory explanations during the debate which extended to four days, the ministers had, instead, been indulging in gutter language about the Opposition members; and in some cases about their fathers and sons also. Not surprisingly, some of the Opposition members also retorted in the same language.
In nutshell, the no-confidence motion points out that nearly three dozen promises made by the BJP in its 2008 election manifesto have not been fulfilled; raids by the Lokayukta Organisation, EOW and Income-Tax Department on the work places and residences of close relatives of ministers have yielded huge amounts of unaccounted money; the officials indicted by the Lokayukta, EOW and I-T Department are being protected by the chief minister by withholding sanction to prosecute them; the law and order situation in the State has reached its nadir and there is massive corruption in the purchase of electricity.
Illegal mining is flourishing on a massive scale with the cooperation of the minister of public works department, the minister of state for mining, the minister of forests and the minister of environment. Lands worth crores of rupees have been allotted at nominal prices to the RSS and its affiliate organisations. A conspiracy was hatched to mortgage the lands of the farmers abroad. The corruption in the implementation of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA) from the Panchayat level to the State level has established a new record.