Rajya Sabha: Congress stalls House over Goa and Manipur

By: Express News Service | New Delhi | Updated: March 16, 2017 7:07 am
Congress members in the Rajya Sabha well. PTI/TV grab

Rajya Sabha could not function Wednesday as the Congress protested against the formation of BJP governments in Goa and Manipur. Raising the issue as soon as the House met for the day, Congress members forced repeated adjournments by demanding installation of Congress governments there. For the government, Finance Minister and Leader of the House Arun Jaitley maintained that the two governments are being formed as per democratic norms. He said after the assembly polls had thrown up a hung verdict in the two states, the BJP formed the governments after firming up coalitions.

The continuing protests led to the House being adjourned for the day around 3.10 pm. Congress deputy leader Anand Sharma had raised the issue through a zero hour mention, after his notice under rule 267 seeking setting aside of the day’s business had been converted. He accused the BJP of “stealing MLAs” and “stealing the mandate”.

He congratulated the BJP for scoring a big victory in Uttar Pradesh and went on to say that the Congress got a massive mandate in Punjab and emerged the single largest party with 28 MLAs in the 40-member Manipur assembly. “The incumbent chief minister [in Manipur] was in a position to form the government,” Sharma said. He cited two judgments of constitution benches of the Supreme Court to stress that the leader of the single largest party should have been invited to form the government. In case the largest party is unable to prove its majority, the second largest party is invited, he said.

Leader of the Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad said the Congress had emerged the single-largest party in Goa and Manipur but the BJP installed its governments. “The BJP has formed its governments in both Goa and Manipur after violating the Constitution and the Supreme Court judgment. We oppose it. Status quo should be maintained,” Azad said. Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi sought that references made to the governors be expunged, saying references on the conduct of a person in high authority cannot be made without a substantive motion. Such statements were eventually expunged.

Kurien moved on to the next zero hour mention and called the CPI’s D Raja, but Congress members trooped into the well raising slogans against the government and “murder of democracy”. Treasury benches shouted slogans to counter them. Kurien adjourned the House for 10 minutes. Later, Jaitley denied any wrongdoing by the BJP in forming the governments. He cited past precedents of alternative coalitions rather than the single largest party being called to form a government.

“The argument given by Mr Azad has been given yesterday [by the Congress] before the Supreme Court which has rejected it and instead said that the Congress should prove its numbers when the floor test is held… When the alternative coalition has a clear majority and they have written to and presented themselves before the governor, there is no scope of inviting a minority in a democracy. The principle of democracy is to have a government of a majority and not a minority,” Jaitley said.

With PTI inputs
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