By L S Herdenia
BHOPAL: The first session of the newly constituted Madhya Pradesh Vidhan Sabha ended on a bitter note. The four-day session was marked by stormy scenes, angry exchanges and a series of walkout by the opposition.
The election of Speaker and deputy Speaker was held in the midst of slogan shouting by the BJP members. While the Speaker was elected on January 9, the deputy’s election took place the next day. It is for the first time that a female member was elected deputy Speaker. Both Congress and BJP sponsored their candidates for deputy Speakership. The post has traditionally gone to the opposition party. But this time this tradition was broken and the Congress blamed BJP for this.
The BJP proposed the candidature of Jagdeesh Dera, but it was not accepted as the rule cited by Congress during the Speaker’s election came into play. BJP did not walk out this time, but kept shouting slogans. Amid noisy protests and after repeated adjournments, Heena Likhiram Kavre, the two-time MLA from Lanji seat, was elected deputy Speaker. “We are unhappy that tradition has been broken but BJP started it,” Chief Minister Kamal Nath told reporters outside the House.
“The BJP has been continuously trying to entice our MLAs and it is they who have broken the tradition,” Nath alleged “BJP filled nomination for Speaker with the intention of fragmentation. Proving our majority – that we had the numbers – became priority for us. When BJP broke tradition, we replied in their language. Thereafter, we decided to hold elections for deputy Speaker”.
Since 1990, it was a convention that the ruling party appointed the Speaker while the opposition got the deputy’s post. With 109 MLAs, BJP this time wanted to show its strength in the House and asked for an election for Speaker. They wanted to propose former minister and tribal face Vijay Shah, but it wasn’t taken up as the first proposal. For Congress N. P. Prajapati didn’t fall through. On Wednesday after Heena filed nomination for deputy Speaker, BJP got SC member and former minister Jagdish Dewra to file papers to take it to a contest.
BJP leaders accused the Speaker of being unfair and demanded his resignation. “We are reaching New Delhi on January 10 and have sought an appointment with the President. We will apprise him of the situation and how Congress elected the Speaker and deputy Speaker undemocratically, violating the norms in the House. We seek the intervention of the President and are also contemplating moving a no-confidence motion against the Congress government” said BJP leader Bhupendra Singh. Party MLAs and senior leaders are going to Delhi for the two-day national executive meet on January 11 and 12, he said.
Leader of Opposition (LoP) Gopal Bhargava said it was the responsibility of the ruling party to conduct the house proceedings in a cordial atmosphere. “But Congress government adopted a rigid stand on the very first day, which continued al through the session. Congress is afraid of losing the floor test hence did not allow voting in the house,” said Bhargava. BJP had demanded secret ballot in the election of both chairs but the voice vote was allowed.
Kamal Nath rejected the allegations that the elections of Speaker and deputy Speaker were unfair and said BJP was welcome to approach legal experts and the higher authorities “But the reality is that the party lost majority support in the floor test in the house and Congress successfully passed it twice. BJP has been losing ground since the assembly elections and knowing that the party cannot stand a floor test in the house, it deviated from tradition. Now, talking about tradition will not serve any purpose,” Nath told reporters. Speaker N P Prajapati said every decision taken in the house is based on rules. “BJP is trying to divert attention of the house by raising slogans and entering into the well,” he said.
Meanwhile, after senior Congress leader Digvijay Singh, chief minister Kamal Nath also asserted that “BJP is involved in horse-trading”. He claimed that he possesses conclusive evidence to substantiate the charge.
BJP has been snipping at the Chair and Congress launching a strong counter attack by the CM himself. “BJP leaders, beware! There are more revelations to come in several matters and this is a trailer. The acts of BJP leaders during the past 15 years will be uncovered soon,” he said.
While Congress and BJP were engaged in a hot war, there was cheerful news for former chief minister Shiv Raj Singh Chouhan, who has been promoted as one of the national vice presidents of BJP. This makes it clear that the party’s national leadership has decided to assign him a new responsibility away from his home state. (IPA Service)