Congress, BJP in verbal spat over central rule in Uttarakhand

New Delhi, May 9 (IANS) The Congress on Monday lashed out at the Narendra Modi regime for imposing president’s rule in Uttarakhand and questioning the assembly speaker’s ruling on whether the budget had been passed or not, while the BJP defended the decision and questioned the Congress’ record in the regard.

“Today, it appears, a central minister is even above Supreme Court and the constitution,” Congress member Gaurav Gogoi said in Lok Sabha while participating in the debate on the Uttarakhand budget.

“It appears you are the judge, you are the jury and you are the executioner,” he said in reference to Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who earlier made a strong case for imposition of President’s Rule under article 356 in the party-ruled hill said.

Gogoi also made a veiled attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying while he talks of “cooperative federalism”, but “in your heart its Congress-mukt (free) India”.

Stressing that the constitution is very clear about one thing – that article 356 can be used only as a “rarest of rare”, he said that the Modi government’s decision to dismiss Congress governments in Uttarakhand and earlier in Arunachal Pradesh was prompted by BJP’s electoral defeat in Delhi and Bihar.

“You show patience and wait for the elections to make it Congress-free,” Gogoi said.

“You cannot change governments in Uttarakhand like that. This can only happen with the consent of the people of Uttarakhand,” said the Congress member from Assam.

Earlier, Jaitley and Saugata Roy of Trinamool Congress clashed repeatedly over the role of the assembly speaker.

Roy insisted that speaker’s ruling either way both in parliament or in state assemblies cannot be questioned by anyone including a minister in the union cabinet, while Jaitley, htting back, charged him with being “charitable” to the Congress party.

Jaitley held that that the recording of Uttarakhand assembly proceedings of March 18 show that speaker had declared a “failed” budget passed.

This itself was “no better violation of the constitution” as the state assembly speaker had saved a government (led by Harish Rawat) when it should have resigned that day, he argued.

Roy however sought to clarify his party was not being soft towards Congress as it is committed to maintain an equi distance from both Congress and BJP.

Defending the government decision to impose central rule, BJP’s Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishanksaidf that “from very beginning it was clear to the legislators that the speaker of the assembly was being partial in saving the Congress government led by Harish Rawat”.

“Why did not he allow division of votes as demanded by members. There is written record of the proceedings,” said Nishank, who is a former Uttarakhand chief minister.

He said in 1992 Congress itself had abused article 356 and dismissed as many as four BJP-led governments in Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, and also charged Congress with dismissing Arjun Munda government twice in Jharkhand.

“They have no moral right to talk about article 356,” he said.

–IANS

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