A recent affidavit filed by the advocate general before the high court stating that the government is not bound by the governor’s directives on equitable distribution of public funds brought the house down on Thursday as legislators from both benches, especially those from backward regions, ensured no business was conducted through the day.
They alleged that the state government is trying to infringe on the governor’s rights enshrined under article 371(2) of the Constitution, and is in violation of the resolution passed by both houses of the state legislature in 2000. The resolution, which was endorsed by the President, empowers the governor to allocate funds to ensure regional imbalance is reduced.
However, in an ongoing case concerning Sophia power project in Amravati, an affidavit submitted by state advocate general Darius Khambata points out that the government is not duty bound to adhere to the governor’s directives.
This irked the elected representatives from the backward Marathwada and Vidarbha regions across party lines as they fear the funds due to them on account on equitable distribution will now be diverted to other areas.
To press the case, Devendra Phadnavis (BJP) moved a breach of privilege motion in the assembly against Khambata and demanded that it be admitted immediately. He said the affidavit is an insult to the legislature, which had given the rights to the governor, and hence the advocate general be summoned to the assembly for further clarification.
MLAs from the treasury benches also joined the Opposition in the well demanding that the motion be admitted.
Speaker Dilip Walse Patil, however, said that since he did not have copy of the affidavit, a decision on the motion was not possible. He said a notice would be sent to the advocate general only if he found the case fit for action.
This led to an uproar and two adjournments of the house. After a meeting of the leaders in the speaker’s chamber did not yield results, the speaker adjourned the house for the day. The legislative council also witnessed heated arguments on the issue.
Deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar sought to defuse the situation saying the state government is committed to retaining the governor’s powers.
“There is no change in status quo. We will gather a detailed report and present it before the members tomorrow [Friday],” he said.
The state has called a meeting of group leaders on Friday to brief them on the issue. A delegation of opposition leaders met governor K Sankarnarayanan to seek his intervention.