The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Cloud over Speaker’s conduct

Ranchi, Aug. 21: A no-confidence motion moved against Speaker Alamgir Alam today sent the ruling UPA coalition scurrying for cover.

The petition, moved by over 12 NDA legislators led by Sarayu Roy, Satyanand Bhokta, Neelkanth Singh Munda and others, under section 158(1) of the Assembly’s rules of executive business, sought a discussion on the Speaker’s conduct and a vote for his removal. The Opposition accused the Speaker of letting chief minister Madhu Koda off the hook during the discussion on his friend Vinod Sinha and of being partisan.

While the UPA has a comfortable majority and it is unlikely that the motion would be carried, if and when it is put to vote, the move caught the ruling coalition by surprise. UPA legislators held a marathon, four-hour-long meeting to decide their response.

The ruling coalition has the option of allowing the debate during the current session itself and risk an acrimonious discussion, embarassing revelations and liberal mud-slinging. They also have the option of postponing the debate till the next session, by which they would risk loss of face and legitimacy.

According to the Assembly rules, action on such notices are to be initiated “after” 14 days of the receipt of the petition. There is no timeframe fixed to dispose of such a petition although rules do specify that it has to be disposed of before the commencement of the next Assembly session.

While some sections within the UPA felt that the Speaker had nothing to worry for the next six months, the Opposition maintained that the no-confidence motion must be taken up first, brushing aside all other business.

Roy demanded that a date be fixed “immediately” for the discussion.

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