New Delhi: In the wake of the Uttarakhand crisis, Union Minister Venkaiah Naidu on Monday refuted Congress's allegations that the Centre was trying to topple state governments, and said the opposition was the "mother of defections".
Nine rebel Congress MLAs, along with BJP members, voted against the ruling party in Uttarakhand, putting the fate of the government in crisis. The state Governor has asked Chief Minister Harish Rawat to prove majority even as the BJP has staked claim to form the government.
Attacking the Narendra Modi government, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi had on Sunday said it was trying to topple state governments, and his party would fight this "demagoguery with democracy".
Mounting a counter attack, Naidu said, "Congress is the mother of defections in the country. What they are saying is that if somebody goes to their party from other parties, they call it affection. If Congress people go out of their party, they say it is defection."
Claiming that Congress, when ruling at the Centre, had imposed President's rule around 90 times, Naidu told the opposition party "not give us sermons".
"We do not belive in politics of defection. We believe in democracy, and in democracy, people are free to choose their party," he said.
Rahul in a series of tweets had said, "Toppling elected Govts by indulging in horse trading & blatant misuse of money & muscle, seems to be BJP's new model, after failure in Bihar".
"Congress Party will fight demagoguery with democracy. This attack on our democracy & Constitution, first in Arunachal & now Uttarakhand, is the true face of Modiji's BJP"," he had said.
Naidu listed out instances where Congress had toppled state governments "umpteen number of times", right from Kerala to sensitive states like Kashmir, starting way back in 1959.
"The Congress government at the Centre dismissed E M S Namboodiripad's first democratically-elected Left government in Kerala, despite its majority in the Legislative Assembly in 1959.
In 1984, NTR-led TDP government was toppled despite having the majority and a puppet of Congress was made Chief Minister. Karunanidhi's government in Tamilnadu was dismissed on January 31, 1976, by the Indira Gandhi government, after he challenged the imposition of Emergency in 1975, Naidu said.
"In 1997, Farooq Abdullah government in J&K was toppled. Congress at the centre also toppled Manohar Parrikar led government in Goa. Recently NCP led government in Meghalaya was also toppled by the Congress government at the Centre.
Governors during Indira Gandhi's regime became means to topple non-Congress governments, instead of being guardians of the Constitution, Naidu said.
On Congress MLAs leaving their party in Uttarakhand, he said, "If people out of distress and lacklusture leadership leave you, what can we do? How can you blame BJP for this?"
Taking a dig at the Congress, Naidu said, "You invented defections, practiced them, and made perfect the art of defections. You criticizing BJP is nothing but devil quoting the scriptures."
With a week to go for the trial of strength in Uttarakhand, Congress today expelled former chief minister Vijay Bahuguna's son Saket and another leader for "anti-party" activities as beleaguered Chief Minister Harish Rawat accused the Centre of destabilising his government.
The Congress and the BJP have also decided to knock the doors of President Pranab Mukherjee on the Uttarakhand issue.