Taking advantage of the Aam Aadmi Party’s inexperience in parliamentary procedures, particularly that of Speaker M S Dhir, legislators from other parties joined forces to adopt a motion diluting the powers of the Speaker including the power to suspend or expel MLAs from the House.
The AAP legislators’ inexperience was evident after they technically supported the motion by not voting against it.
Delhi Congress chief and Gandhinagar MLA Arvinder Singh Lovely moved a motion to suspend Rule 293 of the Rules of Procedures and Conduct of Business in Delhi Assembly. Close to 40 MLAs from the BJP and independents supported the motion, thereby suspending the Speaker’s powers to expel MLAs from the House.
The motions took away the Speaker’s powers to be supreme and absolute. The House suspended Rules 293, 277 and 278 of Rules of Procedures and Conduct of Business in Delhi Assembly. While Rule 293 says that the Speaker’s ruling cannot be questioned, Rule 277 gives the Speaker the power to enforce peace in the House and Rule 278 gives the Speaker the power to call the name of an MLA in the House who needs to be evicted from the Assembly.
“Until now, the AAP had adopted the technique of sitting silent and getting its tasks done through the Speaker. We are 40 MLAs of the BJP and the Congress and we approve the motion suspending rules 277 and 278 in the House,” Lovely, who moved the motion, said.
On a day that saw uproarious scenes in the House, the Speaker often looked to Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal for signals and his staff were seen consulting the CM on adjournment of the House.
According to former Delhi Assembly secretary S K Sharma, both the Congress and the BJP defeated the AAP in its own game.
“There was an option before the parties to bring a no-confidence motion against the Speaker, but the AAP would have opposed it and it might have been another tricky situation. So they brought the motion to suspend the rules that empower the Speaker. This is a very rare and peculiar incident in the history of the Assembly,” he said.
Senior BJP MLA Jagdish Mukhi took a dig at the whole situation. “Not just us, the AAP too supported the suspension of the Speaker’s powers. When the Speaker asked for those who oppose the motion, the AAP MLAs did not react. It was an unanimous decision,” he said.
The Speaker could not react when the BJP MLAs declared that his powers were taken away by the House.