The Meghalaya Assembly was placed under suspended animation on Wednesday, as the Centre advised President’s Rule in the state on the basis of a report by Governor Ranjit Shekhar Mooshahary.
The governor’s recommendation came less than 24 hours after the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP)-led Meghalaya Progressive Alliance (MPA) government won a trust vote in the assembly.
In New Delhi, Home Minister P. Chidambaram said after a Cabinet meeting, “The governor has reported that there is a breakdown of the constitutional machinery and recommended imposition of President’s Rule and keeping the assembly in suspended animation.”
But NCP leader and former Lok Sabha speaker P.A. Sangma said the MPA would move the Supreme Court on Thursday. He said the decision was unconstitutional as the MPA government had won the confidence vote. “There was no manipulation and everything was according to law,” Sangma said.
State higher education minister Manas Chaudhuri told HT that a team of MPA legislators would reach New Delhi on Thursday to decide on the next course of action.
The drama began earlier this month after the Congress won a by-poll, taking its tally in the 60-member House to 26. Later, two Independent legislators withdrew support from MPA and sided with the Congress. They were followed by three MPA legislators, reducing MPA’s strength from 33 to 28.
All five of them were suspended from the House before the trust vote on Monday for going against the provisions of the Anti-Defection Law. Later Speaker Bindo M. Lanong’s casting vote helped the MPA win the trust vote by a whisker.
Legal opinion on the issue is however divided. Constitutional expert Rajeev Dhawan said, “This is an unnecessary crisis created by the Centre. The Speaker’s decisions can be challenged in court.”
Former law minister Shanti Bhushan however blamed the Speaker for the crisis. “He cannot arbitrarily suspend an elected MLA. The governor was right in recommending President’s Rule,” he said.