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Congress claims 16 MLAs forced in isolation in Bengaluru

IANS

New Delhi, March 17, 2020

The Supreme Court on Wednesday would examine a dilemma emerging out of the political upheaval in Madhya Pradesh where 22 Congress MLAs have resigned and the Speaker has accepted the resignation of six.

The remaining 16 rebel Congress MLAs have moved the top court saying they are staying at a resort in Bengaluru of their own free will and volition, whereas the Madhya Pradesh Congress Legislative Party (MPCLP), in a counter claim said they have been forcibly kept in isolation.

In a petition filed through advocate Arjun Garg, the 16 rebel MLAs sought the apex court to issue direction to the Speaker of the Madhya Pradesh Assembly to accept their resignations forthwith, as they tendered resignations voluntarily without any threat or pressure from any side. The MPCLP, which also moved the apex court, claimed these MLAs have not been permitted to either contact the office bearers or even their family members. The Madhya Pradesh Congress has made the Home Ministry, the Centre and Karnataka government as respondents in the matter.

The petition filed by the MLAs contends they do not wish to continue as Members of the Madhya Pradesh Legislative Assembly and would urge the apex court to direct the Speaker to accept their resignations forthwith like he has accepted the resignations of the six other MLAs.

"In view of the fact that the applicants have tendered resignation, floor test cannot be withheld under the pretext of the applicants not being available," said the petition.

Contesting this argument, MPCLP claims the BJP in MP has used its might and power to hold its 16 MLAs in complete isolation in Bengaluru. "It is also relevant to note that although these aforesaid legislators have purportedly sent their resignation letters, none of them resigned from the primary membership of the Congress party", said the petition.

However, the MLAs claim in their petition that "none of the 22 MLAs either came out of Bengaluru nor did they appear before the Speaker. However, the Speaker for the reasons best known to him accepted the resignations of only six MLAs on March 14, 2020."

The Congress has also challenged the "unconstitutional" messages sent by the Governor on three occasions to conduct the floor test in the absence of 16 MLAs. "A fraud upon the Constitution played by the constitutional authority itself and are completely beyond the realm of the powers of the Governor," added the petition by MP Congress.

The MLAs have urged the apex court that they have already tendered resignations therefore floor test cannot be withheld under the pretext of their unavailability. The Congress contests this argument by stating that 22 MLAs who represent 22 constituencies, almost 10 per cent of the total seats, have purportedly resigned and the electorate of these constituencies are completely unrepresented.

"In these circumstances, a trust vote if held will be a complete sham and would be antithetical to the principle of representative democracy which is a basic feature of the Constitution," said the MP Congress.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday sought a response from the Kamal Nath government in Madhya Pradesh by Wednesday on plea of former Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan seeking an immediate floor test on the floor of the Assembly.

A bench headed by Justice D. Y. Chandrachud issued the notice to the state government and others, including the Secretary of the Legislative Assembly, and listed the matter for further hearing at 10.30 a.m. on Wednesday.

The bench granted Chouhan liberty to serve the notice to the state government, Assembly Speaker and other parties in the matter, which includes serving through e-mail.

IANS

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