Late on Saturday night, Governor Lalji Tandon sent a letter to Chief Minister Kamal Nath asking him to undertake floor test immediately after his address in the Budget Session of the House beginning Monday.
Referring to resignation by 22 Congress MLAs, he said that the Governor’s House too has received their resignations on March 10. Besides, these MLAs have also confirmed their resignation on electronic and print media. The letter further says, “These MLAs through letters sent on March 13, 2020, have requested me to provide security for appearing before the Speaker. Six of these MLAs were removed as ministers on your recommendation. Now, the Speaker too has accepted their resignation.”
“On March 13, you too had expressed your desire to go for floor test. I have received a letter from the BJP claiming that undue pressure was being exerted on these MLAs by the state government to withdraw their resignation. Hence, prima facie, it seems that your government has lost confidence and has been reduced to minority,” reads the letter.
Terming it a serious issue, the governor further wrote, “To safeguard democratic values and Constitutional propriety it is essential that the government undertake floor test immediately after my address to the House on Monday.”
The governor has further directed that the division of votes on confidence motion would be held only by pressing of button and video-recording of the entire process would be done by independent people.
Governor’s directive has come as a shock to the state government as it had earlier refused floor test on Monday. In fact, parliamentary affairs minister Govind Singh said, “Government is always given time to prove majority. The House will discuss Governor's address and the budget, and only after that, the BJP may conduct floor test.”
Half way in the current 228-member Assembly is 114. The BJP has 107 MLAs. The Congress which had 114 MLAs has been reduced to 108 after acceptance of resignation of six ministers. If resignations of all 22 rebel MLAs are accepted, the half way mark will come down to 104 and the Congress will be reduced to 92.
Earlier, a BJP delegation met Governor Lalji Tandon on Saturday and urged him to order for floor test before the beginning of the budget session. The delegation led by former chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan handed over a memorandum to the Governor. The memo said the government lost its majority. The memorandum also urged the Governor to use his powers under Article 175(2) of Constitution and direct the government to seek floor test and prove majority.
The BJP leaders demanded that the government should prove majority before March 16 when the assembly session is about to begin. The BJP leaders said 22 legislators of the House quit their membership. Now, the government should prove majority in the House before taking any decision.
Any action taken by the government without proving its majority in the House will be unconstitutional, and that the session should not be deferred, the memorandum said.
Chief Minister Kamal Nath is pressuring the legislators of his party as well as those of opposition and trying to lure them, the memo alleged.
The BJP demanded Governor that an observer should be appointed and the House proceedings should be video-graphed.