The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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House falls to straws in wind
- Buta dissolution report made public

New Delhi, Sept. 2: Buta Singh’s fears of horsetrading in Bihar were founded on media reports, the restlessness in the Rashtriya Janata Dal and information gleaned from contacts in the Janata Dal (United), his reports to the President have revealed.

The Centre dissolved the Bihar Assembly in a rush on May 23 on the basis of the two reports, made public today in what is a first in the country’s history. “I am given to understand that serious attempts are being made by JD-U and BJP to cobble a majority and lay claim to form the government in the state,” the governor says in the report dated April 27.

In the second report on May 21 recommending dissolution, he says: “Reports received by me in the recent past through media and also through meetings with various political functionaries, as also intelligence reports, indicate a trend to win over elected representatives of the people”.

Following this report, the Union cabinet held a meeting around midnight on May 22 and sent the recommendation for dissolution to President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam who was then in Russia. Kalam signed and faxed it back in the early hours of May 23.

The documents, classified as “top secret”, were today submitted to the Supreme Court as annexures to the Centre’s 141-page reply to a PIL challenging the dissolution as “unconstitutional”. This is the first time a governor’s reports to the President have been made public.

The PIL, filed by Supreme Court advocate Viplav Sharma and an Independent MLA of the dissolved Assembly, Purnima Yadav, has sought to make the governor a party to the case.

A five-judge Constitution bench will now decide whether the dissolved Assembly should be revived and the upcoming elections stalled. It will also judge whether the governor can be summoned to explain his decision. Besides, the bench will decide whether it can stop the Election Commission from notifying the Bihar elections. All these questions are being debated in the court for the first time. The hearings begin on September 6.

Fighting a tricky legal battle and hard put to establish the dissolution was bona fide, the Centre decided to make public the governor’s reports hoping this would turn the tables.

In the April 27 report, Buta says: “Contacts in JD-U and BJP have informed that 16-17 MLAs have been won over by various means and attempt is being made to win over others. The JD-U is also targeting Congress for creating a split. It is felt in JD-U circles that in case LJP does not split, then it can still form the government with the support of Independents, NCP, BSP and SP MLAs and two-thirds of Congress MLAs after it splits from the main Congress by the end of this month or latest by the first week of May.”

He adds that the “high-pressure moves of the JD-U/BJP is also affecting the RJD MLAs who have become restive.”

The second report refers to the resignation of Nagmani from the Lok Janshakti Party. “The LJP general secretary having resigned today and also 17-18 more perhaps are moving towards the JD-U, clearly indicating that various allurements have been offered which is a very disturbing and alarming feature,” it says.

“Any move by the breakaway faction to align with any other party to cobble a majority and stake claim to form a government would positively affect the constitutional provisions and safeguards built therein and distort the verdict of the people. If these attempts are allowed, it would be amounting to tampering with constitutional provisions.”

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