BJP vs Congress in Supreme Court over Madhya Pradesh government crisis
The BJP is destroying democracy by muzzling power, the Congress claimed in the Supreme Court today as the two heavyweights of Indian politics locked horns over the Madhya Pradesh government crisis. Appearing for the ruling Congress, senior advocate Dushyant Dave accused the BJP of abducting MLAs and hatching a "conspiracy" to destabilise an 15-month-old government.
In the hearing Madhya Pradesh Congress sought a deferment of the trust vote called by the BJP till completion of by-polls to fill the seats vacated by six MLAs whose resignations have been accepted. Mr Dave also hit out at Governor Lalji Tandon for an "unconstitutional" floor test and "middle of the night" messages, asking: "Is this a democracy? Where MLAs are kidnapped".
The BJP hit back with senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi accusing the Congress of stalling a trust vote that they could not hope to win. Holding the petitioner – the Congress, which ousted the BJP in 2018 Assembly elections – "responsible for the mass murder of democracy" during the Emergency, Mr Rohatgi said the party had "no legal right to remain in power".
Claiming the Governor is the constitutional head of state and was responsible for the functioning of the government in accordance with the constitution, the BJP told the court that the Congress was "desperate for power".
Justice DY Chandrachud, who is heading a two-judge bench in this matter, said the issue of resignations would have to be tested by Madhya Pradesh Speaker NP Prajapati, who is "duty-bound to conduct an inquiry".
The Congress had moved the Supreme Court accusing the BJP of abducting its MLAs and forcing them to resign, thereby reducing the party to a minority in the Assembly and allowing the BJP to stake a claim to power.
In its petition the party asked the court to help free "captive" MLAs in Bengaluru, pointing out that a proper trust vote could not be held without the entire Assembly in session.
"First there was an attempt to whisk away MLAs to Bengaluru using allurement and force. (Then) senior BJP leaders reached residence of Speaker and handed over resignation letters. None of the MLAs were present. This demonstrates complicity of BJP," Madhya Pradesh Congress argued in court today.
Dushyant Dave also referred to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's oft-repeated statement about a "Congress-mukt (free) Bharat".
The party urged the Supreme Court to probe the letters submitted by the BJP leaders, claiming it and their actions violated provisions of the constitution and rules regarding submission of such documents.
The Congress alleged the resignations, which have left the Kamal Nath government on the verge of collapse, were extracted "by force", a claim denied by the MLAs themselves in videos posted this morning.
Twenty-two MLAs had submitted letters of resignation earlier this month. The resignations, some of which have yet to be accepted by the Speaker, have left Chief Minister Kamal Nath's government on the back foot.
The majority mark in the Assembly is now 112 after six MLAs' resignation was accepted on Saturday. The BJP has 107 seats and the Congress has 108, including the 16 whose resignations have yet to be accepted.
The BJP has gone to the Supreme Court asking for an immediate floor test. Governor Lalji Tandon has twice asked Chief Minister Kamal Nath to prove his majority but the Congress accuses him of "pre-determining" that the party is already in a minority.