Uttarakhand assembly speaker Govind Singh Kunjwal disqualified on Thursday two legislators from the ruling Congress and the opposition BJP for cross-voting in a Supreme Court-monitored trust vote last month.
A Congress victory in the cliffhanger floor test on May 10 reinstated the Harish Rawat government in the hill state, which was placed under President’s Rule by the BJP-led Centre that faced criticism over alleged attempts to topple elected governments in opposition-ruled states.
The voting began amid dramatic circumstances with rebel BJP legislator Bhim Lal Arya switching over to the Congress side, while Congress MLA Rekha Arya crossed over to the BJP.
“We decided to disqualify both the legislators belonging to the Congress and the BJP on charges of cross-voting after hearing both sides,” Kunjwal said. “They invited action under the anti-defection law.”
According to the Constitution’s 10th Schedule, a member of a House can be disqualified “if he votes or abstains from voting… contrary to any direction issued by the political party to which he belongs...”
Speaker Kunjwal said the legislators were found guilty of violating the whips issued by their parties.
“The Congress issued the whip to its legislators to vote in favour of the confidence motion moved by the chief minister during the floor test,” he said. The BJP asked its MLAs to vote against the motion.
Kunjwal said the legislators switched sides despite clear instructions that the Congress and BJP MLAs will sit in their respective sides on the voting day.
“Both the legislators were disqualified on the basis of the incriminating evidence,” he said.
Following the disqualification, the Congress has 26 members in a House of 61. The BJP has 27 MLAs and is the largest party in the assembly. The Congress, however, has a thin majority thanks to the Progressive Democratic Front (PDF), a six-member ally.
Uttarakhand was brought under President’s Rule on March 27 after nine Congress lawmakers rebelled against CM Rawat and joined hands with the BJP. Speaker Kunjwal disqualified them under an anti-defection law, a move that led to the floor test.