The fate of the Congress-led government in Madhya Pradesh depends on a trust vote to be carried out in the Legislative Assembly on Monday as directed by Governor Lalji Tandon.
Late on Saturday, Tandon directed Chief Minister Kamal Nath to hold a trust vote in the Legislative Assembly on Monday, days after 22 Congress MLAs , believed to be close to Jyotiraditya Scindia tendered their resignations. Scindia quit the party and joined the BJP.
In his letter to Nath, Tandon stated, "I came to know that 22 MLAs have sent their resignations to the MP Assembly Speaker and they have also informed about it on electronic and print media. I have seen the coverage on both media.They have also sent the letter to me separately on 10 March, 2020 and the same MLAs have requested for the central security to present these resignation letters to the Vidhan Sabha speaker on 13 March".
“Under Article 174 and 175(2) of the Constitution, I am empowered to direct that the Madhya Pradesh Assembly session will begin on 16 March at 11 am with my address. Soon after that, the only work to be done is voting on trust vote,” the governor said.
However, the list of of business of the Assembly for Monday does not mention the floor test.
Madhya Pradesh: The list of business of the State Assembly for tomorrow has schedule for Governor Lalji Tandon's address and Motion of Thanks towards the Governor's address. It does not mention the floor test. pic.twitter.com/3oreHrWnjP
— ANI (@ANI) March 15, 2020
A trust vote or confidence motion is moved to find out whether the chief minister enjoys the confidence of the majority of the House.
According to News18, the governor also directed that that the floor test be completed on 16 March and said the exercise cannot be "deferred, delayed or suspended". The governor also directed that the trust vote be held by division of votes and the process be recorded on video by the Vidhan Sabha through independent persons.
Speaker yet to decide on holding trust vote
However, Speaker NP Prajapati hasn’t yet confirmed whether he will order a floor test in the Legislative Assembly on 16 March, the first day of the Budget session of the Assembly, as directed by the governor.
"I said yesterday that a decision which I will have to take, I don't take it pre-decided. This question is like taking a blind shot. I don't want to be a party to it. I will read out my ruling tomorrow," PTI quoted Prajapati as saying when he was asked about the floor test. "This will be known tomorrow," he said.
The Speaker’s decision in this regard will be crucial in deciding the political future of the Congress-ruled state. While the BJP is keen on conducting a floor test on Monday itself, the Congress is hoping to buy some more time and persuade some of the rebel MLAs to return to the party, PTI quoted sources as saying.
Earlier in the day, state Public Relations Minister PC Sharma said that although the governor has asked the Congress government to seek a trust vote after his (Governor's) address in the Assembly on Monday, the Speaker is empowered to decide the proceedings of the House and he would take a call on it.
However, BJP chief whip in the Assembly, Narottam Mishra, said, "The Congress has lost its majority...I am not saying this...it has been mentioned it the governor's letter sent to chief minister."
Resignations of 6 MLAs have been accepted
Till now, the resignations of only 6 MLAs have been accepted by the Speaker, bringing down the effective strength of the House to 222. The BJP, with 107 members is just short of the new majority mark of 112. However, if the resignations of the rest of the MLAs are accepted, the Congress may fall short of the majority mark of 104 and the BJP may stake claim to government formation.
BJP seeks vote by show of hands
Meanwhile, the BJP has sought a vote by a show of hands during the floor test. After a meeting with the governor, Leader of Opposition Gopal Bhargava said they have demanded the division of votes by raising hands since the electronic voting system in the Legislative Assembly was not operational.
"We came to know that the electronic voting system in the state Assembly is not functional. So we have urged the governor that the division of votes in the house should be carried out by raising the hands," PTI quoted Bhargava as saying.
The governor, in his letter to the chief minister, had directed that the division of votes during the floor test should be conducted only by pressing the button (through the electronic voting system) and no other way should be adopted. However, State Assembly Secretariat's Principal Secretary AP Singh told PTI that the Vidhan Sabha doesn't have the electronic voting system.
"We have a set procedure for conducting division of votes. As per the procedure, MLAs have to sign in a register placed in the lobby along with their names and constituencies. They sign in two columns separately for those in favour and against..," Singh explained.
With inputs from PTI
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Updated Date: Mar 16, 2020 07:14:56 IST