Maratha quota stir: Ignoring procedure to resign highlights political posturing; expect more leaders to follow

When seven legislators from one State Legislative Assembly resign over a period of two days, it's big news, especially when it was done in support of the Maratha quota stir or the way the government handled it.

A significant aspect of their resignation is the fact that they do not belong to a single party. Of the seven legislators who resigned, two — Seema Hire and Rahul Ahir — are from the BJP, three — Dattatray Bharne, Ramesh Kadam, and Jaidev Chikatgaonkar — belong to the Nationalist Congress Party, one legislator Bharat Bhalke is from the Congress, and one legislator Harshvardhan Jadhav is from the Shiv Sena, which is part of the BJP-led ruling coalition at the State as well as the Centre.

 Maratha quota stir: Ignoring procedure to resign highlights political posturing; expect more leaders to follow

File image of Shiv Sena leader Harshvardhan Jadhav. News18

They are Marathas and may have felt very angry at the way how the 58 silent morchas did not lead to 18 percent reservation quota for the community in schools, colleges, and jobs. Prima facie, that could be what they want their constituencies to know. Marathas in rural belts are a third of the population. And with 2019 Lok Sabha polls, just months away, they may seek re-election.

However, these resignations count only when they are handed properly to the right person and in a correct manner. A process is involved, which, as lawmakers, they ought to know: Resignations have to be handwritten, cite no reasons, be signed, and if required, attested before the Speaker or the Chairperson of the Assembly of the Council to verify the signature.

Hire’s resignation is not worth anything because she handed it over to the Maratha Kranti Morcha in Nashik. Would she submit it personally? The Times of India quoted her as saying: “Will decide later”. This is precisely why resignations have be submitted in person like Shiv Sena's Jadhav did. It may have been voluntary but the Speaker could suspect the possibility that Hire succumbed to pressure.

The resignations cannot be sent via email, as has been the case with Bhalke. This, notwithstanding that technology has overtaken our lives and even bank transactions are done by mobile apps. But because some of the laws remain unchanged in the Constitution, the letter is to be personally carried by the member.

Only Jadhav seems to have met the requirements and they come into effect only after being notified by the presiding officer in the House Bulletin and the Election Commission is informed. For, if there was a six-month gap between then and the next round of elections, a bye-lection is required to be held. The presiding officer need not accept the resignations soon upon being presented.

There was a gap of time between the handing over of resignations by five YCR Congress Party MPs from Lok Sabha on 6 April and its acceptance by the Speaker on 21 June. They had resigned to build pressure on the government on the issue of special status for Andhra Pradesh. Here, the seven Maratha legislators are apparently resigning for Maratha reservation.

It was reported that the Speaker had asked the MPs to reconsider their intent, and that was almost towards the end of May. Their departure would have left the Lok Sabha bereft of any member from that party, but that may not necessarily have been the case. It could also have been to let the air cool a bit. They, however, declined.

But the flip side is also possible. The resignation of the Maratha leaders could be just political posturing. Though there have been no allegations of pressure from the Maratha Kranti Morcha yet – at least publicly articulated — such pressures, if the presiding officers note, may lead to the non-acceptance of the resignation.

However, regardless of the agitators demanding or forcing it, be prepared for some more resignations. There is a lot more to be gained either by resigning, making a mere announcement, or sending one's resignation to some party leader, and be seen as being in solidarity with the agitators.

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Updated Date: Jul 27, 2018 18:11:11 IST