Updated: December 30, 2021 10:36:00 am
In the letter he sent to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray Tuesday, Maharashtra Governor B S Koshiyari said he was “pained” and “dismayed” over the “intemperate tone and threatening tenor” of a note sent to him by the state government over selection of the Speaker, and said it denigrated the high office he held.
The government had written to Koshiyari asking that elections be allowed by voice vote for the post of the Speaker, which has been vacant since the resignation of the Congress’s Nana Patole. After Koshiyari turned down the request in the letter sent on Tuesday – contents of which were revealed Wednesday – the election was cancelled. Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar said they had done so keeping in mind the prestige of the Raj Bhavan, and that they would meet the Governor again with their request.
In his letter to the government, Koshiyari said he had taken an oath to protect and defend the Constitution, and the Maha Vikas Aghadi’s proposal for holding the Speaker’s election seemed to be unconstitutional and illegal.
With Acting Speaker Narhari Zhirwal presiding, the state government had changed rules to allow the selection of the Speaker by voice vote instead of a secret ballot.
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The Governor said that the government had cited Article 208 of the Constitution, but that it clearly specifies that a House of the state legislature may make rules for regulating its conduct “subject to the provisions of this Constitution”.
Koshiyari also asked why it had taken the MVA government 11 months to start the process of choosing a Speaker, and said the impact of the “drastic” amendments in Assembly rules needed to be examined. As per the Maharashtra Assembly Rules, under Section 6 (3), elections should be held to the post of the Speaker if more than one member has been nominated “by ballot”. In July this year, the Rules Committee of the State Legislature made up of MLAs proposed that the Speaker be voted through a voice vote instead of a secret ballot.
The Governor said he had never questioned the prerogative of the House in the matter of its procedure/proceedings but he could not be pressured to give consent to a process “which prima facie appears to be unconstitutional and illegal, as enshrined in Article 208 of the Constitution”.
Soon after the contents of the Governor’s letter became known, the Shiv Sena said it was not the MVA government but the Centre which was putting pressure on Koshiyari. Sena chief spokesperson and MP Sanjay Raut said: “For nearly one year, the Governor has not approved the nomination of 12 members to the Legislative Council. It is clear that he is under pressure to not approve the names. So, who is putting the pressure on the Governor? It is clear that the Central government is putting pressure on him to act as per its directives, to create a constitutional crisis in Maharashtra.”
State Industries Minister Subhash Desai of the Sena said, “If the Governor says he is unhappy, the government is also unhappy as he has refused to approve the names for the Legislative Council. The Governor should be acting on the advice of the Council of Ministers. But here he wants the government to act on his advice.”
Congress spokesperson Atul Londhe said, “The government has neither pressured the Governor nor done anything unconstitutional. The Governor seems to have misunderstood the contents of the letter sent to him by the government.”
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