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Posts Tagged ‘Arjun Singh

Warren M Anderson died on September 29 at a nursing home in Vero Beach, Fla. He was 92. His death, however, became a public knowledge only a month later when The New York Times reported it on October 30.

His death passed almost unnoticed until an article appeared in Vero Beach 32963, the weekly newspaper of the Vero Beach barrier island, says NYT.

A Brooklyn carpenter’s son, Anderson ascended to the top of the Union Carbide Corporation (UCC) which is remembered in India more for the world’s worst industrial disaster as the leak of poisonous gas from its plant in Bhopal in December 1984 killed thousands and afflicted with multiple ailments lakhs of others. A large number of the victims are still not able to cope up with life.

Anderson was never brought to book for his role in the tragedy, in spite of summonses and warrants issued by Indian courts several times. The only time he visited Bhopal after the tragedy, he was treated by then chief minister of Madhya Pradesh Arjun Singh as the most honoured guest (rather than an accused) and allowed by then Rajiv Gandhi government to fly out of the country.

In fact, such was the clout of Anderson that he virtually owned the government, as well as the judiciary, of India. The Prime Ministers and judges including Chief Justices of the Supreme Court behaved like his paid servants. The whole UCC episode in India marks a period of shame in this country. Perfidy of the Indian politicians, bureaucrats and judges may not be as much evident in any other case as in the case of Union Carbide disaster.

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After Bhopal Raj Bhavan’s alleged involvement in Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s infamous VYAPAM scam became public, Congress leader and former Leader of Opposition in the Assembly Ajay Singh suggested that Governor Ram Naresh Yadav should resign. Ajay Singh was a bit too late in seeking Yadav’s resignation, like his father Arjun Singh who could never take a political decision at the right time.

The right time for seeking Yadav’s resignation was when the Governor had, by his inexplicable action, lowered the dignity of the Constitution, brought to disrepute the office of the Governor and created embarrassment for the Congress party, to which he himself belongs, on the eve of the November 2013 Assembly elections. The conduct of most of the occupants of the Bhopal Raj Bhavan in the past couple of decades has, sadly, been less than exemplary.

The Assembly was abruptly adjourned while a Congress-sponsored motion of lack of confidence in the BJP’s Shivraj Singh Chouhan government was pending. The motion, levelling serious charges of corruption against Chouhan and his family members and close relatives, was admitted on July 9 (2013) and the time allotted for a discussion in the House. When it was taken up for a debate on July 11, Speaker Ishwardas Rohani called Leader of Opposition Ajay Singh to speak. However, Deputy Leader of Opposition Rakesh Singh Chaturvedi stood up and said that he was opposed to the no-confidence motion. The BJP members were promptly on their feet hailing him and creating loud noise. The Congress members took a little time to recover from this sudden shock and denounce Chaturvedi.

In the free-for-all that followed, minister of legislative affairs Narottam Mishra moved a motion for an adjournment of the House. Speaker Rohani promptly adjourned the House sine die, leaving Opposition members flabbergasted. Top BJP leaders led by chief minister Chouhan hugged and lionised Chaturvedi and took him outside where Chaturvedi announced before media persons that he was joining the BJP. Leader of Opposition Ajay Singh (who lacks the acumen of his late father) made the tactical mistake of not opposing the motion moved by Narottam Mishra for an adjournment of the House. That, though, was a minor thing.

The Congress then petitioned Governor Ram Naresh Yadav. The Governor had two options before him. He could prorogue the Assembly under Article 174(2) of the Constitution or he could send a message to the House under Article 175(2) for the consideration of the pending motion. Article 175(2) says: “The Governor may send messages to the House or Houses of the Legislature of the State, whether with respect to a Bill pending in the Legislature or otherwise, and a House to which any message is so sent shall with all convenient despatch consider any matter required by the message to be taken into consideration.”

This is followed by Rule 20 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Madhya Pradesh Vidhan Sabha which says: “Message by Governor: – Where a message from the Governor for the Vidhan Sabha under Article 175(2) of the Constitution is received by the Speaker, he shall read the message to the House and give necessary directions in regard to the procedure that shall be followed for the consideration of the matters referred to in the message. In giving these directions the Speaker shall be empowered to suspend or vary the rules to such extent as it may be necessary to do so.”

Instead of acting in either way, the Governor started consultations with all and sundry, the lawyers and Constitutional experts included. He also sought opinion from the Advocate-General who has his office at Jabalpur. Congress leaders met him several times as did the leaders of some other parties. He had meetings with chief minister Chouhan and even called Speaker Rohani. In between, he made a trip to Delhi leaving an impression behind that he had gone to take directions. On return from Delhi, too, he continued to dither.

Then on July 26, he wrote a brief letter to the chief minister suggesting that the Assembly session should be reconvened. It was a vague and illiterate letter because the Executive does not come between Governor (who is part and head of the Legislature) and the Assembly. Moreover, the Governor did not cite under which provision of the Constitution or any other law he had written to the chief minister. Predictably, the chief minister did not take any notice of the letter. The whole thing came as a huge embarrassment to the Congress which was much too confident of debating the no-confidence motion in the House with the intervention of the Governor.

Rohani’s act in abruptly adjourning the Assembly was reprehensible enough, but what Governor Yadav did was most abominable. Instead of taking a decision either way as mandated by the Constitution, he started dilly-dallying and reportedly making compromises with chief minister Chouhan, casting thus an indelible slur on the institution of Governor.


November 2017
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“Behind every great fortune there is a crime”, originally attributed to 19th-century French writer Honoré de Balzac.

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