New Delhi, May 13 (IANS) Even as the dust seemed to have settled down over political acrimony with regard to dismissal of Harish Rawat-led Congress ministry in Uttarakhand, state Governor K.K. Paul has apparently defended his decision not to have dismissed the chief minister after March 18.
“The governor’s latest report defends his decision to give time to the chief minister and fix March 28 as the date for floor test for Rawat,” an informed source told IANS here on condition of anonymity.
Quoting the ruling of the Uttarakhand High Court, the governor reportedly said: “The decision of the Speaker about the proceedings cannot be questioned.”
By implication, this suggests that the Appropriation Bill (brought by the Uttarakhand government) had been passed by “voice vote” in the assembly on March 18 as ruled by the Speaker.
Political parties, mainly the BJP and the Congress, remained divided over the fate of Uttarakhand vote on account — budget for four months of the 2016-17 fiscal — as passed by the Lok Sabha.
In the Rajya Sabha, the Congress also resisted its passage once during the session that ended on Friday.
Even till Thursday (May 12), the government had listed agenda on The Uttarakhand Appropriation (Vote on Account) Bill, 2016, for the Rajya Sabha proceedings with the mention that Finance Minister Arun Jaitley would move the bill as passed by the Lok Sabha, which can “be taken into consideration”.
The upper house did not transact any business on Thursday following the death of sitting Congress member Praveen Rashtrapal.
However, on Friday’s list of business no other agenda other than farewell to 53 retiring members was kept.
At the beginning of the day’s business on Friday, Rajya Sabha Chairman Hamid Ansari said, “As per the understanding arrived at the party leaders’ meeting held May 12, the house will today bid farewell to its 53 members who will be retiring in the coming months of June and July. No other business will be transacted.”
As per the Rajya Sabha website on the legislative functions, “In case a Money Bill is not returned by the Rajya Sabha to the Lok Sabha within a period of 14 days from the date of its receipt, it is deemed to have been passed by both houses in the form in which it was passed by the Lok Sabha after the expiry of said period.”
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and rebel Congress legislators of Uttarakhand had petitioned the governor and also the union home ministry on March 18 and 19 that the state assembly, according to them, “could not pass the state budget” and hence the Rawat ministry ought to have been dismissed.
The governor had declined to entertain the requests of the nine Congress rebels and BJP legislators, and had instead given about 10 days’ time to the chief minister, asking him to prove his majority on March 28.
In his confidential report to the President and a copy made available to the union home ministry, the governor has now reportedly endorsed the decision of the state assembly Speaker.
This report directly contests the version of Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who repeatedly has referred to March 18 development in the state assembly and had called it a “failed budget”.
During heated debate in the Lok Sabha on May 9, a day ahead of trial of strength in the Uttarakhand assembly as directed by the Supreme Court, the finance minister claimed that the central government had “three materials (basic reasons)” to act in Uttarakhand and recommend President’s Rule.
These included failure to pass budget on March 18, allegations of horse-trading, and possible constitutional crisis as the fiscal year was to end.
He said without imposing President’s Rule, the “state would have been pushed into a constitutional crisis that not a rupee to be spent by the state of Uttarakhand would have been authorised”.
Jaitley also had lashed out at the assembly Speaker, saying the constitution’s founding fathers envisaged a “rule by majority and not by manipulated majority”.
(Nirendra Dev can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)