Suicidal act of Congress in MP
Posted August 18, 2012on:
The Madhya Pradesh Assembly set within a span of nine days two dubious precedents. On July 18, it terminated the membership of two Congress MLAs, Chaudhary Rakesh Singh Chaturvedi and Kalpana Parulekar. On July 27, it restored their membership by revoking its July 18 decision.
Whether Chaturvedi and Parulekar did get beck the status and privileges of MLAs was not clear till today because the Assembly secretariat or the two Congress leaders had not received any communication from the Election Commission. After terminating their membership of the House on July 18, the Assembly secretariat had promptly communicated the decision to the Election Commission which had immediately notified their constituencies as vacant and the two were declared ineligible to vote in the Presidential election the following day.
The exercise, however, does bring to the fore that the leaders of the ruling BJP treat the Assembly more like their family shop than an institution created by the Constitution with certain rules and regulations which everyone is expected to follow. The Congress, in the process, suffered a debasing setback which it will not find easy to overcome in near future.
On July 16, the first day of the monsoon session of the Assembly, the Congress members created a ruckus demanding a discussion on their adjournment motion on the rampant corruption in the State in the light of the Income-Tax Department raids on the premises of Dilip Suryavanshi and Sudhir Sharma and their closeness to the chief minister’s household. Prodded by the chief minister, Speaker Ishwardas Rohani rejected their demand. Rohani, too, was worried about his own skeletons following the publication, a few days earlier, of a State CID report giving details of his prolonged business association with top Jamaat-e-Islami Hind (JIH) leader and a SIMI patron Abdul Razzak (now in custody) and his son Sartaj, both notorious criminals of Jabalpur from where Rohani hails.
The next day saw some Congress MLAs sit on dharna in front of Rohani’s chamber while others continued their disruptive activities in the House where the ruling BJP members had tried to commence the proceedings by asking one of them to preside. However undesirable it might have been, there was nothing unprecedented in this. Even the gherao of the Speaker was not a new thing. The BJP members had held a similar gherao of then (Congress) Speaker Shrinivas Tiwari on January 20, 2001.
On July 18, Legislative Affairs Minister Narottam Mishra moved a resolution seeking termination of the membership of Chaturvedi and Parulekar who, Mishra claimed, had brought to disgrace the House and the chair by their unruly behaviour in the House the previous day. Rohani asked the House if they supported the resolution and the BJP members shouted “yes”; Rohani declared that the two ceased to be the members of the Assembly forthwith and adjourned the House sine die in contravention of the Rules of the House. This took barely a minute.
Rohani violated the law and rules for taking action against a member of the House. Such a drastic action (termination of the membership) was taken without giving a notice to the members concerned and without referring it to the committee of privileges constituted for the specific purpose of examining the complaints against the members and without allowing a discussion in the House. Even the tyrannical Khap Panchayats in Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh go through the farce of hearing the other side before announcing their pre-determined verdict. Rohani did not even deem that necessary.
The monsoon session was to last till July 27 but Rohani adjourned the House sine die on July 18 for which he was not authorised. Rule 12-B of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Madhya Pradesh Assembly clearly states that “the House shall not be adjourned sine die on a day in advance of the last sitting of the House fixed for the session except on a motion made by the Leader of the House and adopted by the House”.
In the case of a “grave disorder arising in the House”, Rule 266 permits the Speaker to “suspend the sitting of the House till a later hour on the same day or adjourn the House to the next sitting in the same session”.
Speaker Rohani and chief minister Chauhan realised the mistake soon afterwards as their action was strongly disapproved by their own party leaders. Chaturvedi and Parulekar challenged in the Madhya Pradesh High Court on July 19 the termination of their membership of the Assembly. The massive rally held by the Congress in Bhopal on July 20 further unnerved the BJP leaders. The police used lathi-charge, teargas shells and water cannons to crush the demonstration, injuring many of the protestors. All the Congress MLAs later handed over their resignations from the Assembly to AICC general secretary in charge of Madhya Pradesh affairs B K Hariprasad who announced that a decision on the resignations would be taken after consultations with the high command.
There was an anti-climax two days later when Chaturvedi and Parulekar sent regret letters to Rohani following meetings between Leader of Opposition Ajay Singh and Deputy Speaker Harvansh Singh (who also belongs to Congress) with chief minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan and Speaker Ishwardas Rohani. B K Hariprasad expressed his surprise and some Congress leaders including former minister Hajarilal Raghuvanshi described it a retrograde step.
In a special session of the Assembly convened on July 27, Narottam Mishra moved a resolution seeking revocation of the July 18 decision of the Assembly; the BJP members shouted “yes” and Speaker Rohani announced “restoration” of the membership of Chaturvedi and Parulekar — all took less than a minute. Later the two “restored” Congress members withdrew their petition from the State High Court.
Chauhan and Rohani have thus averted a possible embarrassment in the High Court and an agitation against them on corruption issues. The Congress has lost the momentum it had built with the expulsion of its two MLAs and the July 20 rally. The grapevine has it that the resources of Dilip Suryavanshi and Sudhir Sharma played a vital role in bringing about the anti-climax.