22 March 2020
Bhopal: With the BJP waiting in the wings to form the government in Madhya Pradesh, Governor Lalji Tandon on Sunday wrote a stern letter to Speaker Narmada Prasad Prajapati telling him to quit his post as per convention.
The Governor said by convention the Speaker must quit once the party that elected him loses power.
A BJP delegation had called on the Governor on Saturday to complain about the Speaker who accepted the resignation of BJP legislator Sharad Kole. The BJP which was clamouring for early acceptance of 22 Congress legislators in absentia complained that Kole's resignation was accepted in haste. Kole had handed the paper personally, but subsequently e-mailed a message against the acceptance of his resignation.
The Governor mentioned a no-confidence motion moved by the BJP in the Assembly against the Speaker and asked him to take it up on priority when the session is convened.
"Until the no confidence motion is decided by the House, I expect you to work in accordance with the Constitution, Assembly rules and morality by studying the legality of every subject," the Governor stated in the letter.
After Chief Minister Kamal Nath stepped down before facing a trust vote on Friday, the Speaker had adjourned the Assembly sine die.
At the centre of the latest dispute is the resignation letter sent by BJP MLA Sharad Kole on March 6. While Kole claimed that he had sent another letter on March 16 requesting the Speaker not to accept his resignation, the Speaker insisted he accepted the resignation because neither did he receive any other letter before that nor the legislator met him in person.
On Saturday evening a BJP delegation called on the Governor seeking his intervention in the dispute over Kole's resignation. "At the moment there is no leader of house and the house is not functional and the Speaker should not take any policy decision that harms or protects someone's interests. Yet, politically motivated decisions are being taken," Leader of Opposition Gopal Bhargava said in the complaint informing the Governor that a no confidence motion had been submitted against the Speaker, but he did not act on it.
The BJP demanded that a pro-tem speaker should be appointed to ensure that "constitutional values and democratic traditions" are followed. The BJP accused the speaker of following unlawful procedure to accept Kole's resignation.
Besides attaching copies of complaints by the BJP, the Governor in his letter to the Speaker quoted a constitutional expert's opinion published in a local newspaper that said if a government falls the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker elected during that regime should resign.
Both the Speaker and Deputy Speaker Heena Kanvre belong to the Congress. After the Congress came to power in 2018 polls, the BJP had demanded election for the Speaker's post. By convention the Speaker (belonging to the ruling party) is elected unanimously and the Deputy Speaker belongs to the opposition party. Because the BJP forced an election for the Speaker's post, the Congress named its own MLA as the Deputy Speaker.