Posts Tagged ‘Ishwardas Rohani’
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.
The sanctity of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) reports for the BJP depends upon whether the party is in power or in opposition. At the Centre the BJP is in opposition and it not only insists on a discussion on CAG reports but stalls Parliament to have its way. In Madhya Pradesh the party is in power and so its approach is different.
When the opposition Congress sought a discussion on the CAG report in the Assembly on Thursday, Speaker Ishwardas Rohani said that the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) is constituted to specifically examine the CAG report. The not-so-vigorous demand by the Opposition members had little effect on the attitude of the Speaker or the treasury benches. The House, though, had to be adjourned for a brief period a couple of times. The CAG report for Madhya Pradesh for the year, ended March 2011, was placed in the House earlier in the week.
The reluctance of the BJP government to discuss the CAG report in the House can have only one reason. The report exposes the arbitrary manner in which the Government has been conducting its business, little caring for the lapses pointed out by the CAG in various works. The CAG report says that the authorities are required to comply with the observations contained in the inspection reports, promptly rectify the defects/omissions and report their compliance to the Auditors “within four weeks of their receipt”. As of June 30, 2011, 12.737 inspection reports were outstanding against civil departments of the State. Of these, 7102 were pending for more than five years.
Rs 4000 crore loss
The report estimates a loss of over Rs 4000 crore to the exchequer because of the wrong-doings of the State government. Perhaps the most arbitrary decisions were taken by the government in the matters of acquisition and allotment of lands.
The land has been chief minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan’s first love and he has been obliging his friends and party men generously. At least in one case, his government had committed a fraud by seeking objections (as required under the law) for different khasra numbers while actually acquiring land with different khasra numbers. He had almost allotted this prime land on the banks of river Narmada to his party colleague and Rajya Sabha member Anil Madhav Dave but for the ruckus created by a minister at the cabinet meeting. The chief minister had to hurriedly cancel the allotment process. The minister was, naturally, thrown out of the cabinet and later he quit the party also.
CAG notes that centralised database on acquisition of private land, payment of compensation to land losers, custody and allotment of government land had not been maintained at the State level. The Government has not prescribed a uniform and transparent method for calculation of market value of land. CAG noticed that market value of land was prima facie erroneously determined by different methods leading to under-assessment of compensation of Rs 6.91 crore in 46 cases and excess payment of compensation of Rs 12.76 crore in 23 cases.
“Avoidable expenditure” of Rs 5.88 crore was incurred on payment of additional compensation due to delay, from one to 22 months, in passing award.
Similarly, there was no comprehensive and transparent policy for allotment of Government land which would have facilitated equal opportunity to every desirable entity. “Substantial revenue of Rs 33.66 crore was lost” due to allotment of Government land to different bodies and organisations at lower rates in contravention of the prescribed provisions. Realisation of revenue was withheld due to absence of time limit for finalisation of lease cases in case of advance possession and initiating recovery proceedings against the defaulters.
CAG finds the management of Government land also “poor”. It says that land measuring 1979.594 hectares, acquired by Industry Department, was not utilised for industrial development. No periodic physical verification of Government lands was conducted as required. In four districts, 171.076 hectares of Government land was not utilised by the allottees for purposes mentioned in allotment orders and no action was taken to resume the lands. In 12 test-checked districts, 13152 encroachment cases were not finalised.
The absence of consolidated details of Government land allotted/leased at the apex level was, according to the CAG report, attributed by the revenue department (which is the modal department for the purpose) to non-submission of monthly progress report of land acquired and allotted in the district by the district revenue authorities in spite of repeated instructions issued by the department. It is apparent that the department has not attached due seriousness to “non-availability of such vital information and its negative impact on governance in a sensitive and people-centric matter like land”. The CAG noted the absence of a “rational policy” for allotment of Government land.
In the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY), the CAG found underutilisation of the funds, provided by the Centre in its implementation. The targets, too, had not been achieved. It says that till March 2011, the Government of India had sanctioned Rs 9989.84 crore under the PMGSY and the State government was able to spend only Rs 7136.30 crore. The PMGSY is a 100 per cent centrally funded programme.
The programme envisaged provision of rural road connectivity to 8459 villages in the State by construction of 37,021 km all-weather black topped roads. Against a target of 8459 roads, only 6229 roads were constructed as of 2010-11. The Audit report specifically notes that the planning for the road work was deficient. Approved road lengths were reduced by 557.84 km resulting in excess drawl of Central assistance under PMGSY to the extent of Rs 103.20 crore. Expenditure on 42 “partially constructed roads and substantially abandoned roads” led to a wasteful expenditure of Rs 1.60 crore. There was excess payment of Rs 6.99 crore to the contractors due to inflated measurement of work done. Besides, Rs 54.61 crore was pending recovery against several contractors. There was violation of contractual provisions by way of non-insurance of roads, resulting in undue financial aid of Rs 1.19 crore to the contractors.