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Madhya Pradesh chief minister Kamal Nath. (HT)
Madhya Pradesh chief minister Kamal Nath. (HT)

BJP moves Supreme Court, seeks urgent floor test in MP assembly

  • Demand comes in wake of Speaker adjourning state’s budget session till 26 March over pandemic threat
  • Speaker says that a floor test would be conducted only after the rebel MLAs come before him to resign

NEW DELHI : The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Monday moved the Supreme Court demanding an urgent trust vote in the Madhya Pradesh Assembly, after Speaker N.P. Prajapati adjourned the session till 26 March, citing the threat of the Covid-19 pandemic. The apex court will hear the matter on Tuesday.

The demand for the trust vote comes in the wake of last week’s resignation of 22 legislators from the ruling Congress, even as crucial elections to the Rajya Sabha loom. As soon as the House convened for the budget session, parliamentary affairs minister Govind Singh mentioned the threat of the Covid-19 pandemic and highlighted an advisory issued by the Union government. Prajapati then announced the adjournment of the assembly till 26 March.

The adjournment comes as a breather for the state government led by chief minister Kamal Nath, as it delays an impending trust vote triggered by the exit of the 22 MLAs that turned the government into a minority in the assembly.

Governor Lalji Tandon had earlier urged the government to conduct a trust vote on Monday. The speaker, however, is of the opinion that a floor test would be conducted only after the rebel MLAs come before him to resign.

Later in the day, the governor, however, asked Nath to face floor test on Tuesday. In a letter, Tandon told Nath that his grounds for not holding floor test were devoid of reasoning or meaning.

The BJP has criticized the adjournment of the House and the consequent delay in the floor test. “The chief minister is running away from the trust vote as he knows that the government lacks majority. The BJP has the majority and we have appealed to the governor to order the floor test to be conducted at the earliest. He has assured us that our constitutional rights will be protected," said Shivraj Singh Chouhan, former chief minister and national vice-president of the BJP.

Leader of Opposition Gopal Bhargav of the BJP said the chief minister should resign. “The state government is running away from facing the floor test but it cannot be saved from collapsing as a good number of MLAs are against it. The government has been defeated morally and the chief minister should resign on moral grounds," said Bhargav.

Nath has written to the governor on Monday urging him to ensure that constitutional procedures are followed. The chief minister has said that a floor test was not possible because some of the Congress MLAs were being held captive allegedly by the BJP. “I would like you to recall that when I met you on March 13, 2020, I had brought to your notice that BJP has kept many Congress MLAs as captive under the control of Karnataka police and they were forced to give different types of statements. I have clarified that in such a situation, holding any floor test has no meaning and it will be undemocratic and unconstitutional," Nath said in his letter.

Similar problems also surfaced in Gujarat, where four Congress MLAs resigned on Saturday. The Congress is facing a rebellion in the two states possibly because of the crucial Rajya Sabha elections.

The Congress accused the BJP of using money power to win over Congress MLAs. “The BJP has accumulated crores of rupees through corruption and is trying to buy Congress MLAs. We will not allow democracy to be killed. As far as the Rajya Sabha elections are concerned, we will contest both seats in the state," said Amit Chavda, the chief of the Congress in Gujarat.

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