Punjab guv torpedoes Bhagwant Mann’s trust vote plan; Kejriwal says end of democracy
The Punjab governor’s office said it sought legal opinion on representations received from opposition leaders, Pratap Singh Bajwa, Sukhpal Singh Khaira and Ashwani Sharma, against the special session
CHANDIGARH: Punjab governor Banwari Purohit on Wednesday withdrew his order to summon a special session of the Punjab assembly on September 22, saying there were no specific rules to convene an assembly session to consider a “confidence motion”. The governor’s surprise move to rescind his order issued just a day earlier prompted howls of protest from Punjab’s ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).
One of the sharpest reactions came from Delhi chief minister and AAP convenor Arvind Kejriwal. “How can the government refuse to convene a session requested by the cabinet? Then this is the end of democracy. The government permitted the session two days back. When it appeared that Operation Lotus was failing and they did not have the numbers, then instructions were issued from above to withdraw the permission. On one side in the country today is the Constitution, on the other, Operation Lotus,” said Kejriwal in a post on Twitter.
Operation Lotus is a term AAP has given to alleged attempts by the BJP to poach its MLAs to topple the AAP government.
In a communication to the assembly secretariat, Raj Bhavan cited representations received from opposition leaders, Pratap Singh Bajwa, Sukhpal Singh Khaira and Ashwani Sharma, against the special session.
“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,” the letter signed by JM Balamurugan, principal secretary to Punjab governor said.
The AAP cabinet called the special session amid a political slugfest with the BJP over what AAP alleged was an attempt to bribe its legislators to topple the Bhagwant Mann government.
Mann, who announced the one-day special to table the confidence motion, on Monday alleged that the BJP tried to lure the AAP MLAs and offered them money to bring down the state government.
Last week, finance minister Harpal Singh Cheema levelled a similar accusation at the BJP, saying 10 AAP legislators were offered ₹25 crore each to try to topple the government.
On the basis of a complaint submitted by nine AAP MLAs, Punjab Police on September 14 registered a first information report (FIR) into AAP’s allegations against the BJP for attempting to topple its government in Punjab and the case was transferred to the Vigilance Bureau.
In a statement later, AAP said: “This is another example of the killing of democracy in Punjab at the behest of the BJP. To date in the history of India, the Governor has not cancelled the approval of the special session. This is the first such shameful incident in the history of Indian democracy. The complicity between the BJP and the Congress, which was behind the scenes, has now come to the fore”, AAP said.
It also took a dig at the Congress which also petitioned the governor against the session. “To date, Congress MLAs have been sold all over the country and are now indirectly sold in Punjab also. Similarly, for 70 years, Congress and the BJP together have brutally killed the elected democratic governments”.