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SC rules MP floor test: Ends political uncertainty or encourages culture of defections?

The Supreme Court has ordered a floor test in Madhya Pradesh assembly on 20 March and has directed to videograph and conclude the proceeding by 5pm.

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The Supreme Court has ordered a floor test in Madhya Pradesh assembly on 20 March. It directed the legislature to videograph the proceeding and conclude the floor test by 5pm. The Kamal Nath government is facing a collapse after 22 of its MLAs resigned a day after Congress leader and former Guna MP Jyotiraditya Scindia quit and joined the BJP.

ThePrint asks: SC rules MP floor test: Ends political uncertainty or encourages culture of defections?

Buying of MLAs and indulging in tactics to influence their choices is ‘Gujarat Model’. But SC has given its verdict

Pawan Khera
National Spokesperson, Congress

The Supreme Court has pronounced its verdict on the ongoing uncertainty the BJP has imposed on the elected government of Madhya Pradesh.

Buying of MLAs, putting them in distant resorts, and indulging in all kinds of tactics to influence their choices can safely be termed as the ‘Gujarat Model’, in which subverting democracy has become the new normal.

Why have the MLAs not been allowed to meet Digvijaya Singh, a candidate for Rajya Sabha, who is well within his rights to meet his voters? Why did the BJP not bring a no-confidence motion in the House earlier this week? Why did the Supreme Court not deem it fit to liberate the so-called rebel MLAs from the forced incarceration in Bengaluru?

During the Gujarat Rajya Sabha election in 2017, the Congress took its MLAs out of Gujarat to protect them from midnight knocks by agencies threatening them to defect. The BJP and its sponsored media questioned us on how we can take our MLAs away when there were floods in the state.

Today, we are faced with a pandemic and an uncertain future. There is panic across the country. Thanks to the BJP, people’s representatives in Madhya Pradesh are being kept away from their constituents. The party is once again showing that its priority is maximum politics and minimum governance.

Supreme Court is the last word and the long-delayed floor test will now hopefully end the uncertainty

Former BJD leader Jay PandaBaijayant Jay Panda
Vice President & Spokesperson, BJP

The fundamental requirement in our democratic system is that any state government must have a majority in the assembly. It is apparent for the last few days that a certain number of MLAs are not with the Kamal Nath government in Madhya Pradesh. It quite clearly does not enjoy a majority. It is, therefore, untenable for a government to continue being in charge when it does not have a majority.

It was absolutely crucial that the floor test should have happened when governor Lalji Tandon ordered it. It is unfortunate that speaker N.P. Prajapati did not allow it for whatever reasons.

The Supreme Court judgment is just the reiteration of long-established law and precedent that when a government is challenged to have lost its majority, it must prove its majority on the floor of the House. This hopefully ought to end the uncertainty because the Supreme Court’s word is the last word and the floor test has already been long delayed. I am hoping that it will end the uncertainty because it is not right for a government to continue in office when it does not have a majority.

SC ruling will end uncertainty in MP but strengthen misuse of political machinery

Maneesh Chhibber
Senior Journalist 

The Supreme Court ruling may have opened a new, unheralded chapter in the murky world of Indian politics.

This will possibly be the first time a court has ordered floor test within 24 hours while the speaker was yet to decide on the time. The rules talk of a time-frame of 10 days from the date the vote of no-confidence has been first moved for the proceedings to be carried out. Since the no-confidence motion was moved on 16 March, the House had until 26 March to decide the fate of the government.

But today’s order, which is most likely going to result in the fall of the Kamal Nath-headed government, while ending political uncertainty in Madhya Pradesh, will also further strengthen the case for misuse of official machinery and horse-trading to buy MLAs.

What if a week from now, some of the 16 Congress rebel MLAs return to Bhopal and allege they were being held against their wish and not allowed to return to participate in the vote?

The Supreme Court order also brings back into focus the need for more court-mandated clarity on the powers of the governor and the speaker in such situations, how to prevent horse-trading and strong-arm tactics.

Time has also come to revisit the 26-year-old Bommai judgment, in which a nine-judge bench of the Supreme Court had ruled that the issue of whether a chief minister has the majority support in the assembly or not will be decided only on the floor of the House.

Also read: Should India’s private healthcare join COVID-19 fight or risks becoming a profit venture?

By Unnati Sharma, journalist at ThePrint

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  1. NO. What the Supreme Court is seriously conveying is that when wafer thin majorities are under severe strain, as in this case, the CM should not prevaricate, obfuscate and dilly dally to regain control, but immediately “Test” his clout “ON THE FLOOR OF THE ASSEMBLY”.

  2. No need to blame the Apex Court for the mess politicians have created. I want to raise a fundamental issue: Are defections always morally hazardous? Who is decide that? Certainly not the Apex Court. Kamal Nath is an experienced politician. He should have assessed the political consequences of neglecting a significantly large faction of MLAs within his party. He did not pay any heed, nor did the Congress Party high command. Let them pay the political price for their miscalculations. Now, even if the Kamal Nath government falls, it is not the end in itself. Sure, there would be re-elections. Let Kamal Nath win the electoral contest and he can come back again. Thus, in the final analysis, it is for the people to decide. The defecting MLAs have resigned, thus accepting the possibility that they may not get elected again. Thus they have paid political price for their defections. Now the verdict should be in the people’s court. In Karnataka, we have seen that many of the MLAs who resigned could get re-elected under the BJP banner. Thus their action was vindicated by the voters.

  3. One would welcome the apex court verdict, for both its finality and its fairness. When there is a legitimate doubt whether the government has lost its legislative majority, it should itself proceed swiftly to lay it to rest. Convene a special session of the legislature and demonstrate that it has the numbers. Or resign gracefully, as Vajpayeeji did, after thirteen days. 2. How a slender majority was converted into a clear minority is the subject matter of realpolitik. The gradient is becoming more steep for the Opposition, mainly for the Congress party. It has lost two important state governments in a matter of months. The absence of a strong core of leadership is being felt.

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