The Indian Express | 1 week ago | 20-06-2022 | 10:45 pm
Ahead of two crucial Lok Sabha by-elections in Uttar Pradesh on Thursday, the BJP has thrown its weight behind capturing the constituency of Rampur that is the stronghold of veteran Samajwadi Party (SP) leader Azam Khan. The bypoll became necessary after Azam vacated the seat following his victory from the Rampur Assembly constituency in the state polls earlier this year.Calculating that it has a bigger possibility of causing an upset in Rampur than in Azamgarh, which SP chief Akhilesh Yadav’s cousin Dharmendra Yadav is attempting to retain for the Yadav family, the ruling party has deployed at least 16 state ministers to canvass among voters from their castes and those they can easily reach out to because of their portfolios. Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya addressed public meetings on Sunday while Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath is scheduled to address two public meetings on Tuesday, the last date of campaigning, in support of Ghanshyam Singh Lodhi. The BJP candidate, who is a former SP MLC, is up against Azam’s long-time associate Asim Raja.Among the senior ministers touring Rampur frequently is Finance Minister Suresh Khanna who has so far met local traders’ associations, chartered accountants, and tax bar association lawyers. Minister for Social Welfare, Scheduled Caste and Tribal Welfare Asim Arun, a former IPS officer, has addressed meetings of Jatav Dalits in various localities. The BJP has also deployed Minister for Secondary Education Gulab Devi and Minister of State for Revenue Anup Pradhan to reach out to Dalits.To consolidate voters from the Lodh community, which is categorised as an Other Backward Class (OBC), the BJP has sent Basic Education Minister Sandeep Singh, Union Minister of State for Cooperation B L Verma and UP Minister for Irrigation Dharampal Singh to the constituency. Public Works Department (PWD) Minister Jitin Prasada has addressed meetings of the Prabuddha Varg (intellectuals) and Brahmins.While UP Panchayati Raj Minister Bhupendra Singh Chaudhary has been camping in the area, Kapil Dev Agrawal, Dharamvir Prajapati, Jaswant Saini, and Rakesh Sachan are some of the other ministers to have toured the constituency.Meanwhile, in Azamgarh, the party’s election efforts are being overseen by Minister of State Girish Chandra Yadav and local leaders have been playing a more prominent role in the campaign. In the last few days, a few high-profile leaders such as minister and state BJP president Swatantra Dev Singh, Power Minister A K Sharma, Transport Minister Dayashankar Singh, Deputy CM Maurya, and Cabinet ministers Anil Rajbhar and Surya Pratap Shahi have campaigned in the constituency. Ministers Ashish Patel and Sanjay Nishad who belong to parties allied to the BJP were seen on the stage when Adityanath addressed a rally there on Sunday.“We are focusing more on Rampur because chances of winning that seat are more strong there compared to Azamgarh,” a senior BJP leader told The Indian Express. “BJP had won this seat in the past. There is a bipolar contest due to a majority of Muslims. We have to avoid the division of Hindu votes. We have deployed ministers and leaders according to caste equations to attract voters. We are giving special attention to Dalits because the BSP (Bahujan Samaj Party) is not contesting and that is an opportunity to win them over.”A BJP leader said that in Azamgarh the party was involved in a three-way fight with the SP and the BSP and Muslim voters were likely to be a deciding factor there.In Rampur, the SP is banking on the Azam Khan factor to sail through and so far no prominent party leader has visited the constituency. Teams of Azam’s supporters and MLAs from the constituency and adjoining areas have taken the responsibility of canvassing for Raja. “Yahan Azam Khan ke alawah zarurat nahi padhti kisi ki. Azam Khan apne aap mein kaafi hain (No one else is required here. Azam Khan himself is sufficient),” SP’s Rampur district president Virendra Goyal told The Indian Express.Goyal said teams of workers were going door to door with Azam, his son Abdullah Azam and Raja. He added that former minister Swami Prasad Maurya had also campaigned for the candidate.In comparison, the Opposition party has been focussing more on Azamgarh. There, Rajya Sabha MP Ramgopal Yadav, veteran leader Ram Govind Chaudhary, Swami Prasad Maurya and former minister Dara Singh Chauhan, and allies Om Prakash Rajbhar (Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party, or SBSP president) and Sanjay Chauhan (Janvadi Party president) have already campaigned. Azam himself canvassed for Dharmendra Yadav last week. The party’s Maharashtra unit president Abu Asim Azmi and the SBSP’s Mau MLA Abbas Ansari, the son of jailed politician Mukhtar Ansari, have also hit the roads to seek votes for Akhilesh’s cousin.
While granting interim relief to rebel MLAs of the Shiv Sena on Monday, the Supreme Court made a crucial but unusual judicial intervention that raises questions on the powers of the Speaker under the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution. The Speaker’s powers under the Tenth Schedule have been previously upheld by the Supreme Court itself; the court has allowed judicial review only once the Speaker has made a decision, and has ruled out interference with the process.The question of when a floor test will be held in the Maharashtra Assembly, meanwhile, remains unclear. BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis met Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari late on Tuesday.What does the interim order say?The interim order grants more time to the rebel MLAs — until July 11 — to reply to the disqualification notice served on them. It seeks affidavits from them, and also a counter-affidavit from the Deputy Speaker on his removal as demanded by the rebels.In granting more time, the Supreme Court has essentially delayed the disqualification proceedings, which would have a direct impact on atrust vote in the Assembly, whenever it takes place.The issue of considering the removal of the Deputy Speaker himself is more complex and raises questions on the sanctity of the Tenth Schedule.What does the Tenth Schedule say?The Tenth Schedule or the anti-defection law, introduced in 1985, gives the Speaker of the House the power to disqualify legislators who ‘defect’ from the party. In the landmark case Kihoto Hollohan versus Zachillhu in 1992, the Supreme Court upheld the power vested in the Speaker and said that only the final order of the Speaker will be subject to judicial review.Courts have refrained from interfering with the process itself.However, a 2016 ruling of a Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court has shifted the balance on the powers of the Speaker. In the landmark Nabam Rebia v Bemang Felix case, concerning a constitutional crisis in Arunachal Pradesh then, a five-judge Bench of the SC limited the Speaker’s powers.What was the Nabam Rebia ruling?While the larger legal issue in the Nabam Rebia ruling was on the contours of the powers and limitations of the Governor, the issue of anti-defection also came up. On that point, the Supreme Court held that it is “constitutionally impermissible” for a speaker to proceed with disqualification proceedings, if a no-confidence motion against him is pending.“The action of the Speaker in continuing, with one or more disqualification petitions under the Tenth Schedule, whilst a notice of resolution for his own removal, from the office of Speaker is pending, would ‘appear’ to be unfair. If a Speaker truly and rightfully enjoys support of the majority of the MLAs, there would be no difficulty whatsoever, to demonstrate the confidence which the members of the State Legislature, repose in him,” the Supreme Court ruled.This ruling gave a window to defecting legislators to stall or circumvent the Tenth Schedule by seeking removal of the Speaker when disqualification proceedings are anticipated — effectively tying the hands of the Speaker.Have legislators used this legal route?Yes, since 2016, this legal route has a been a familiar playbook for legislators cutting across states and political affiliations.In 2016, rebel MLAs of the Congress including Vijay Bahuguna sought removal of Uttarakhand Assembly Speaker Govind Singh Kunjwal after shifting ranks to the BJP to stall anti-defection proceedings.In 2018, AIADMK legislator S Karunas sent a notice to the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly Secretary K Srinivasan, seeking removal of Speaker P Dhanapal at a time when the AIADMK leadership was mulling action against Karunas and three other MLAs for having pledged their support to T T V Dhinakaran.In June 2020, the Congress in Manipur served a notice for the removal of Speaker Y Khemchand as nine of its MLAs defected to the BJP.How can the Speaker be removed?Under Article 179 of the Constitution, a Speaker can be removed by a resolution of the Assembly passed by a majority of “all the then members of the Assembly”. The process begins with notice of at least 14 days.In the 2016 Nabam Rebia ruling, the Supreme Court interpreted Article 179, specifically the term “all the then members of the Assembly”, to mean the composition of the house at the date/time of giving the notice for the removal of the Speaker. This interpretation would mean that the composition of the Assembly cannot be changed from the date of issuing of a notice of the removal of the Speaker, and therefore the Speaker cannot make any decisions under the Tenth Schedule to change the composition of the House until the question of his removal is settled.During the hearing on the Maharashtra situation, senior advocate Neeraj Kishan Kaul, appearing for the rebel Shiv Sena MLAs, referred to the 2016 Nabam Rebia ruling to argue that the Deputy Speaker of an Assembly cannot decide on disqualification of MLAs while a motion for his or her removal is pending.What were the reasons for the Supreme Court’s 2016 decision?The Supreme Court’s reasoning in barring the Speaker from acting under the Tenth Schedule when a notice for his own removal is pending, is to ensure that the Speaker who disqualifies legislators must enjoy the confidence of the Assembly.“After all, disposal of the motion under Article 179(c), would take no time at all. As soon as the motion is moved, on the floor of the House, the decision thereon will emerge, forthwith. Why would a Speaker who is confident of his majority, fear a floor test? After his position as Speaker is affirmed, he would assuredly and with conviction, deal with the disqualification petitions, under the Tenth Schedule. And, why should a Speaker who is not confident of facing a motion, for his removal, have the right to adjudicate upondisqualification petitions, under the Tenth Schedule?” the Supreme Court had said in Nabam Rebia.This interpretation would mean defection is followed by an immediate floor test and not proceedings of the Tenth Schedule. A floor test is the ultimate step in ascertaining majority in the House, but legal experts have criticised that 2016 interpretation saying it would not lead to ascertaining “real majority” that is determined after punishing defecting MLAs.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has lost majority in house and a floor test is in order, the BJP told the Governor this evening. The party delegation was led by Devendra Fadnavis, who headed for the meet on his return from Delhi. Here are the Top 10 points in this big story:"We have written to the Governor and told him that Shiv Sena's 39 MLAs are repeatedly saying they don't want to be in an alliance with the Congress-NCP. This means they are not with the government," Devendra Fadnavis told reporters after the meeting."So we have told the Governor that he should ask the Chief Minister to conduct a floor test and prove majority," he added.Mr Fadnavis -- the predecessor of Uddhav Thackeray on the top post -- headed for the Governor's House straight from the airport. He was accompanied by Girish Mahajan and state BJP chief Chandrakant Patil.In Delhi, Mr Fadnavis had a 30-minute strategy session with BJP chief JP Nadda this evening amid speculation about the party staking claim to form government.Earlier today, sources had said the Governor may ask Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray to prove majority this week.The Team Thackeray had requested the Supreme Court that no floor test be allowed till the matter of disqualification notices to 17 rebel MLAs be settled. The court has refused to pass orders on it.In a day of fast-paced developments, Mr Thackeray sought a meeting with the rebels on their return to Mumbai, which is likely on Thursday."I want to appeal to you - time is still not lost. Please come, sit with me, remove all doubts from the minds of Shiv Sainiks and the public, then we can find a way out. We can sit together and find a way out," Mr Thackeray wrote.Eknath Shinde, who is leading the coup aganst Uddhav Thackeray, said that he would go to Mumbai "soon" and "take Balasaheb Thackeray's legacy forward", indicating that he is ready for the next move. He claims he has the backing of around 50 MLAs, nearly 40 of them from the Shiv Sena.The Shiv Sena has accused the BJP of masterminding the revolt and hounding its leaders using investigating agencies. Uddhav Thackeray's key spokesperson, Sanjay Raut, was summoned today by the Enforcement Directorate in a money laundering case but he refused to go. Mr Raut terms the summons a conspiracy. Comments
◾ A tailor in Udaipur was hacked to death today by two persons allegedly for posting a social media statement in favour of suspended BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma, who had made controversial remarks about Prophet Mohammad. With the city tense following the murder, internet services have been suspended, and 600 police personnel along with senior officers are being sent to Udaipur. Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot has appealed for peace. “Strict action will be taken against all the criminals involved in this incident and the police will go to the bottom of the crime. I appeal to all parties to maintain peace,” he said.◾ Meanwhile, in Delhi, Alt News co-founder Mohammed Zubair was sent to four-day police custody over a 2018 tweet that allegedly hurt religious sentiments. On Zubair’s arrest, Pratap Bhanu Mehta writes: “The arrest of journalist Mohammed Zubair in Delhi is pettiness, vengeance and repression let loose on a society once aspiring to be free. It is also a distillation of the way in which the Narendra Modi government draws energy from a thorough contempt for liberty, decency, constitutional values, and the opinion of the international community.”◾ In Maharashtra, where the political turmoil refuses to abate, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray appealed to rebel Shiv Sena MLAs to return, saying he is “worried” about them. “Don’t fall prey to anyone’s missteps. The honour given to you by Shiv Sena cannot be found anywhere. If you come forward and speak, we will sort out the issues. As Shiv Sena party chief and family head, I am still worried about you. Come here for a dialogue,” he said. His appeal came hours after Rebel leader Eknath Shinde said he will soon return to Mumbai.◾ In other news from the city, four people were killed after a helicopter operating for the Oil and Natural Gas Commission (ONGC) made an emergency landing off the Mumbai coast. The chopper, with nine people on board, ditched in the sea 60 nautical miles away from Mumbai near Sagar Kiran rig on Tuesday morning.◾ In business news, the GST Council today approved changes in tax rates on some goods and services while allowing states to issue an e-way bill for intra-state movement of gold and precious stones. The Council, chaired by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, also cleared a host of compliance procedures for GST-registered businesses along with a GoM report on high-risk taxpayers to check evasion.◾ Mukesh Ambani has resigned from the board of his group’s telecom arm, Reliance Jio and handed over the reins of the company to elder son Akash, a step seen as succession planning by the 65-year old billionaire. In a stock exchange filing, Reliance Jio Infocomm said the company’s board at a meeting on June 27, “approved the appointment of Akash M Ambani, non-executive director, as chairman of the board of directors of the company.”Political Pulse◾ The BJP is hoping for gains beyond the immediate in its storming of the Samajwadi Party bastions of Rampur and Azamgarh Lok Sabha seats in the recent bypolls. The planning and strategy to secure the constituencies, supervised by senior leader Amit Shah as per sources, have punched holes in the SP’s confidence in its loyal Muslim-Yadav vote bank. The results also fit in with the BJP’s Mission 2024 plans, which it has already set in motion. With the SP having mounted a creditable challenge to it in the recent Assembly elections, the BJP knows the party as the one to beat in the state, and these two seats were its best chance of sending a message to the party. Liz Mathew reports.◾ From the Urdu Press: As a major political turmoil roiled Maharashtra with an intra-Shiv Sena power struggle pushing the Uddhav Thackeray-led MVA government to the brink, the country’s leading Urdu newspapers provided its saturation coverage in their news and commentary pages. In their reporting and analysis, they also focused on the July 18 Presidential election, the Supreme Court’s dismissal of Zakia Jafri’s appeal challenging the SIT’s clean chit to the then chief minister Narendra Modi and others in the 2002 Gujarat riots, spotlighting the subsequent arrests of activist-journalist Teesta Setalvad and ex-DGP RB Sreekumar.Express Explained◾ ‘Hermit’ is the latest sophisticated spyware in the news, and it is believed to have targeted iPhones and Android devices in Italy and Kazakhstan. Hermit’s deployment – the spyware has been developed by an Italian vendor called RCS Lab – was first reported by cyber security researchers at the Lookout, a San-Francisco-based cybersecurity firm. What is Hermit, what exactly does it do on a device, and how can users keep themselves safe? We explain.◾ The G7 countries, who are meeting during the ongoing Leaders’ Summit in Germany, have officially launched the Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment (PGII), a joint initiative to fund infrastructure projects in developing countries. The project, launched on June 27, is being seen as the bloc’s counter to China’s ‘Belt and Road Initiative. What is PGII, where are funds being directed under the plan, and what has been China’s response to the announcement? Read here.
NEW DELHI: Former Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis met Union minister Amit Shah and BJP president J P Nadda here on Tuesday to discuss the party's next course of action amid the spiralling political crisis in the state threatening the three-party Maha Vikas Adhadi government's existence. Fadnavis was joined by BJP MP and senior lawyer Mahesh Jethmalani in the meeting with the home minister, sources said. They are believed to have explored various options available for the party and deliberated on their legal feasibility as the BJP works to recapture power in Maharashtra with the help of rebel Shiv Sena MLAs and several independent lawmakers. After meeting Shah, Fadnavis drove to Nadda's residence and briefed him about the unfolding political developments in the western state. Earlier in the day, he arrived in the national capital from Mumbai to discuss the issue with the party's top brass. Around 39 rebel Sena MLAs and at least 10 independent legislators from the state have lodged themselves at a five star hotel in Assam in their bid to bring down the Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray-led government. The BJP has denied any role in the rebellion but Fadnavis is being seen to be playing a key role in working out a post-MVA dispensation which he may head with support from the Sena rebels. BJP sources have maintained that any concrete outline of the next government has not been worked out but added that Eknath Shinde, the senior Sena leader who has led the rebellion against his party's alliance with traditional adversaries the Congress and the NCP, and other key members of the group will be suitably accommodated in case their party comes to power. Shinde may be made deputy chief minister in such an eventuality. The priority right now is to bring down the MVA government as it has clearly lost majority in the assembly, BJP leaders said. The rebels may approach the state governor, conveying the decision to withdraw their support from the Thackeray government. Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari then may ask the ruling alliance to undergo a floor test in the assembly. The next couple of days may see a fresh movement from the rebels against the government, sources said. Though the BJP sources expressed confidence that the Uddhav Thackeray government is on its last leg, the party is treading cautiously to avoid any wrong move like the one in 2019 which had caused it embarrassment when Fadnavis formed a short lived government in alliance with the NCP faction headed by Ajit Pawar without ensuring adequate support of MLAs. Fadnavis had to resign in three days as NCP supremo Sharad Pawar rallied his party MLAs to thwart his nephew's bid to join hands with the BJP to form the government. The Sena then joined hands with the NCP and the Congress to come to power. The BJP has long nursed a grudge against the Sena as both parties had fought the 2019 assembly polls together and had secured a comfortable majority. However, its ally insistence that the post of chief ministership should be rotated between the two parties and not be held by the BJP alone led to a split.
Mumbai: Maharashtra minister Aaditya Thackeray has claimed that some of the Shiv Sena legislators in Guwahati with the rebel camp are "being held as prisoners". He said this to NDTV hours after his father, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, made an emotional appeal to the rebels to return. "They are our people," Aaditya Thackeray said, "We are in touch with 15-16 of them."Rebel leader Eknath Shinde has claimed support of 40 of the Sena's 55 MLAs. The Shinde camp wants the Shiv Sena to dump its partners — the NCP and Congress — to form a government with its "natural ideological ally", the BJP, instead. Mr Shinde had criticised Aaditya Thackeray's recent statement that "scum" is going out of the Sena.Mr Thackeray responded, "There are some who actually wanted to rebel and go out. And some have just been taken away and held as prisoners. The chief minister has appealed again; so, if it's a matter of the party, they should return and we can talk to each other." PromotedListen to the latest songs, only on JioSaavn.comOn the fate of the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government, he said, "Our job is to serve the people. We will continue to do that. The government continues to function in full strength."Earlier in the day, Uddhav Thackeray wrote to the rebel Sena MLAs shortly after mutiny leader Eknath Shinde said he will go to Mumbai and speak with the Maharashtra Governor. "You have been trapped in Guwahati for some days, I keep getting updates on you," the chief minister wrote, "Many of you are in touch with us... and you are Shiv Sena men at heart. Let us talk, we'll find a way."