BJP moves SC seeking floor test in Madhya Pradesh Assembly
The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to hear tomorrow the plea by former Madhya Pradesh chief minister and senior BJP leader Shivraj Singh Chouhan seeking a direction to the Kamal Nath-led Congress government to undertake floor test in the Assembly to prove its majority as directed by the state governor.
The plea, before the mentioning officer of the apex court for urgent hearing, said the speaker, the chief minister and the principal secretary of the Assembly be directed to 'hold the floor test in the Madhya Pradesh Legislative Assembly within 12 hours of the passing of the order by this court and as directions...issued by governor'.
The Madhya Pradesh Assembly was adjourned till March 26 on Monday amid the demand by BJP MLAs to hold a floor test as directed by state governor Lalji Tandon.
Just after the brief address of the governor, MLAs of the BJP raised the demand for a floor test, triggering an uproar.
Minister for parliamentary affairs Govind Singh raised the issue of coronavirus threat in the country and also mentioned the central government's advisory.
The speaker accepted Singh's plea and adjourned the House till March 26.
Earlier in the day, uncertainty loomed over holding of the floor test in the Madhya Pradesh Assembly with sources in the Jyotiraditya Scindia camp claiming that the 22 MLAs of the Congress who had resigned last week might not be coming to Bhopal.
Tandon had on Saturday night directed chief minister Kamal Nath to seek a trust vote in the House immediately after he delivered his customary address on the first day of the Budget session.
On Monday, the governor gave a brief address, completing it within a minute and a half. He urged the legislators to follow the Constitutional traditions, maintain dignity of democracy and act peacefully in the current situation prevailing in the state.
Nath, who met the governor on Sunday late night, said that the decision on a floor test will be taken by the Speaker.
On Monday the plea, filed through lawyer Saurabh Mishra, said: 'It is submitted that on account of lack of confidence and resignation of 22 MLAs of Congress party out of which the resignation of six MLAs having been already accepted by speaker, the government led by chief minister Kamal Nath has been reduced to minority. It has no moral legal, democratic or constitutional rights to remain in power even for a single day.'
'All possible attempts are being made by the chief minister to convert his minority government into majority by giving all possible threats, allurements to the members of Madhya Pradesh Vidhan Sabha. The horse trading is at its peak. Therefore, it is essential that the floor test is conducted on March 16 itself as already directed by governor so that it becomes absolutely clear as to whether the chief minister continues to enjoy the confidence of the majority of the Madhya Pradesh Vidhan Sabha,' it added.
It said any deferment of the floor test will further encourage 'horse trading' and will be in utter violation of the directions issued by the governor, law laid down by this court and the spirit and basic structure of the Constitution of India.
Besides Chouhan, nine other BJP MLAs, including Gopal Bhargava and Narottam Mishra, are the four petitioners in the case in which the state Assembly speaker, Nath are made party as respondents.
The 22 MLAs of the Congress who had resigned might not return to Bhopal on Monday from Bengaluru where they are camping, sources close to BJP leader Jyotiraditya Scindia, whose rebellion from the Congress had triggered a political crisis in the state, said on Monday morning.
These MLAs, including six ministers, have already resigned from the membership of the Assembly and there is no point in coming back at this point, they said.
Of the 22 MLAs, at least 19 MLAs had e-mailed their resignation letters to the governor from Bengaluru on March 10.
Speaker N.P. Prajapati had accepted resignations of six of the 22 MLAs. He, however, remained non-committal on holding a floor test.
Interestingly, holding of a floor test found no mention in the List of Business (LoB) issued by the state Assembly secretariat on Sunday night.
The LoB mentioned only about the governor's customary address on the first day of the Budget session and the motion of thanks.
Referring to this, BJP national vice-president Shivraj Singh Chouhan had said, 'Kamal Nath has very innocently said that it is the job of the speaker to conduct floor test, while the fact is that it is the government, which decides the business of the House'.
'The governor had ordered the chief minister to seek the trust vote after his customary address. Tandon has written the letter to you (Nath) and not to the Speaker,' he told reporters on Sunday late night.
Chouhan said that with the resignations of 22 MLAs, the Nath government was reduced to a minority.
'The government must table a proposal for holding a floor test in the House and the speaker should ensure that it will be conducted,' the former chief minister demanded.
On Sunday late night, MLAs of the BJP returned to Bhopal from Manesar in Haryana. The MLAs of the Congress had also returned from Jaipur.
The BJP has 107 seats in the House, which now has an effective strength of 222, with the majority mark being 112.