Alleging “gross Constitutional impropriety” by Goa Governor Mridula Sinha during the process of government formation in the state earlier this week, the Congress staged a protest in Rajya Sabha on Friday, but its attempt to force a discussion on the issue was thwarted. Deputy Chairman P J Kurien said he could not allow an impromptu discussion on the conduct of a Governor in the absence of prior notice from the Opposition.
Congress leader Digvijaya Singh took up the matter during Zero Hour and mentioned an interview in a Mumbai newspaper in which the Governor was quoted as having said that she had spoken to Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in New Delhi before deciding to call the BJP to form the government in Goa. “A gross Constitutional impropriety has been committed by the Governor of Goa,” Singh claimed.
As his party colleagues got up to support him, Kurien asked Singh to move a “substantive motion” for initiating a discussion. “I am not against any discussion. (Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas) Naqvi has also said that the government is ready for a discussion. The only question is, you have to observe the formalities,” Kurien said.
Congress members, however, continued to persist, with Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad and his deputy Anand Sharma also trying to weigh in. “The Constitution does not allow the Governor to consult a serving cabinet minister about the formation of a government or appointment of chief minister… it does not say anywhere that the Governor is supposed to consult a serving union cabinet minister,” Sharma said.
The Congress claimed that the Governor’s role had been discussed in the House several times in the past. “Recently, when the Arunachal Pradesh issue came up, we discussed it here,” said Azad. He tried to reason with the Chair, saying the Congress was not discussing the Governor’s conduct but only her public utterances in which she had admitted to having spoken to Jaitley before inviting the BJP to form government.
The Congress said it would move a substantive motion and come back for a discussion on Monday.