Punjab governor says no to special assembly session; jolt to AAP govt

Published on Sep 22, 2022 02:31 AM IST

Opposition hails Punjab governor for cancelling special assembly session, AAP cries murder of democracy, CM Bhagwant Mann calls meeting of party MLAs in Chandigarh today

AAP slammed Punjab governor after he withdrew order summoning special session of the assembly. (PTI)
AAP slammed Punjab governor after he withdrew order summoning special session of the assembly. (PTI)
By, Chandigarh

In an embarrassment to the Bhagwant Mann-led Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government, Punjab governor Banwarilal Purohit on Wednesday cancelled the special session of the state assembly, a day before it was to be convened for considering a ‘confidence motion’.

The governor cancelled the one-day session by withdrawing his earlier order issued on Tuesday regarding summoning of the 16thVidhan Sabha for its third (special) session on September 22. In his brief order, Purohit said that in absence of the specific rules regarding summoning of the assembly for considering the “confidence motion” only called by the Punjab government, the September 20 order is withdrawn.

The governor’s move is being seen as unprecedented in the state. Chief minister Bhagwant Mann had on Monday announced the decision to call the special session amid a political slugfest with the BJP over the latter’s alleged attempts to offer money to its legislators under ‘Operation Lotus’ to topple his government in the state. The AAP had last week accused the BJP of offering 25 crore each to 10 party MLAs to topple the government. On September 14, a first information report (FIR) was registered by Punjab Police on the basis of a complaint submitted by nine AAP MLAs against the BJP and then transferred to the vigilance bureau. However, no names or phone numbers of the accused who tried to lure the legislators were mentioned in the FIR.

Purohit acted on Cong, BJP representation

The governor’s decision to cancel the session came after leader of opposition Partap Singh Bajwa and MLA Sukhpal Singh Khaira of the Congress, and Ashwani Sharma, state president of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), represented to him. The three opposition leaders, in their representations, raised questions over the special session, stating there is no legal provision to convene the special session to move ‘confidence motion’ only in favour of the state government.

“This matter was examined and a legal opinion was sought from Sh. Satya Pal Jain, Additional Solicitor General of India. He has given his legal opinion that there is no specific provision regarding summoning of the Assembly for considering the ‘confidence motion’ only, in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business,” reads the communication sent by the governor’s principal secretary JM Balamurugan to Surinder Pal, secretary of the state assembly.

How can the governor refuse a session called by the cabinet , asks Kejriwal

The AAP, which also held an assembly session in Delhi and passed a confidence motion three weeks ago, criticised the governor’s order without mincing words. AAP national convener and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal was the first to react and said that democracy is over in the country. “? The democracy is over. Two days ago, the governor allowed the session. When ‘Operation Lotus’ started failing and the numbers were not complete, a call came from above asking him to withdraw the permission,” Kejriwal tweeted, blaming the BJP.

Mann also said that the action of the governor not to let the assembly function raises big questions about democracy in the country. “Will democracy be run by public representatives elected by crores of people or a person appointed by the central government…on one side is Bhimrao Ji’s Constitution and on the other is ‘Operation Lotus’…people are watching everything,” he How can the governor refuse a session called by the cabinetposted on Twitter.

Team Mann consults legal advisers

Mann and his team immediately went into a huddle with their legal advisers to decide their future strategy. The chief minister has also called a meeting of all the AAP MLAs in Chandigarh on Thursday to decide their future strategy. The AAP also accused the Congress and the BJP of being “hand in glove” with each other.

Hailing the governor’s decision as “historic”, leader of opposition Partap Singh Bajwa said the AAP government was violating all rules and regulations. “The governor has saved the democracy and upheld the constitution. This confidence motion was nothing but a gimmick to divert the attention of the public from the various scandals and difficulties faced by Kejriwal and Punjab government,” he said. Calling the now-cancelled session a “replay” of the drama staged by the AAP government in Delhi, BJP state president Ashwani Sharma said they were doing this here to hide their failures and please the leaders sitting in Delhi. Former deputy speaker Bir Devinder Singh, who on Tuesday termed the special session as “unconstitutional”, said that by cancelling the special session, the governor has maintained the constitutional dignity and propriety.

“As per Rule 58(1) of the Rules of Procedures and Conduct of Business of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha, only a no-confidence motion can be brought against the council of ministers. A session could not be summoned just for a confidence motion. If there is any other item like legislative business, then the governor can permit a special session,” he remarked.

The AAP had swept the assembly polls in Punjab in March 2022, winning 92 of the 117 seats, whereas the BJP has only two MLAs in the state assembly. Any attempt to break the AAP without attracting the provisions of the anti-defection law would require two-thirds of the total strength of the party, 62 members, to be precise - in the assembly.


    A senior assistant editor, Navneet Sharma leads the Punjab bureau for Hindustan Times. He writes on politics, public affairs, civil services and the energy sector.

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