Shivraj Singh Chouhan. (Photo: ANI)
Bhopal: The budget session of the Madhya Pradesh Assembly, which began on Monday, was adjourned till March 26 after the Kamal Nath-led government cited concerns over coronavirus, while the BJP demanded holding of a floor test as directed by Governor Lalji Tandon.
Speaker N P Prajapati adjourned the House after Legislative Affairs Minister Govind Singh broached the issue of coronavirus scare, saying the World Health Organisation has declared it a pandemic.
In a reminder of the developments in Karnataka last year, former Madhya Pradesh chief minister and senior BJP leader Shivraj Singh Chouhan moved the Supreme Court seeking a direction to the state government to undertake floor test in view of the political crisis in the state.
The plea alleged that the direction Tandon to Nath for conducting a floor test on March 16 was not complied with.
When the Karnataka political crisis was at its peak, the Supreme Court had in July last year directed that the 15 rebel MLAs of the Congress and JD(S) ought not to be compelled to take part in the proceedings of the Karnataka Assembly, which was then slated to decide the confidence motion moved by the H D Kumaraswamy-led state government.
Soon after the governor wrapped up his address to the Assembly earlier on Monday, Singh said, "You all know that in the wake of (Covid-19) pandemic outbreak, the ongoing Assembly sessions of Rajasthan, Kerala, Odisha, Chhattisgarh and Maharasthra have been adjourned."
BJP chief whip in the Assembly Narottam Mishra said Kamal Nath should seek a trust vote on Monday itself as directed by the governor. There were noisy scenes after Congress legislators objected to the demand.
Prajapati spoke to the governor who asked the members to "uphold democratic values and pride" of the state. Leader of Opposition Gopal Bhargava said trust vote should be held, to which Prajapati said the opposition hasn't held any talk with the Speaker over the issue.
The treasury and opposition benches traded charges and amid the commotion, the Speaker left the House for a while.
When he returned, the opposition pressed for the trust vote vociferously, while the treasury benches opposed them.
Amid the noisy scenes, Singh drew the attention of the Speaker to the coronavirus situation which he said has assumed alarming global proportions.
The Speaker then adjourned the House till March 26. The drama didn't stop after the House was adjourned, as 106 MLAs of the BJP, led by Chouhan reached the governor'sresidence and demanded that a floor test be held immediately.
Meanwhile, Nath dared the BJP to bring a no-confidence motion against his government.
"If the BJP is demanding floor test and saying that we don't have majority, they should bring a no-confidence motion against my government. Why are they shying away (from brining a no-confidence motion). We will prove our majority," Nath told reporters.
Earlier in the day, BJP MLAs reached the Assembly in three separate buses along with senior party leaders, after arriving in Bhopal from Manesar in Haryana at around 2 am.
Many legislators were seen covering their faces with masks amid the threat of coronavirus. These masks were provided by the state Assembly secretariat.
Talking to reporters after meeting the governor, Chouhan said, "Kamal Nath government is in a minority. This government has lost its majority. The governor had directed the chief minister to prove his majority in the floor test on March 16. They should not have had any problem in facing the floor test, if they have majority".
Nath on Monday wrote to Tandon stating that holding of a floor test in the Assembly would have been "undemocratic and unconstitutional" in view of some MLAs of the Congress being held in "captivity" by the BJP with the help of the Karnataka Police.
"I would like you to recall that when I met you on March 13, 2020, I had brought to your notice that the BJP has kept many Congress MLAs as captive under the control of Karnataka Police and they were forced to give different types of statements.
"I have clarified that in such a situation holding any floor test has no meaning and it will be undemocratic and unconstitutional," Nath stated in his six-page letter.
Chouhan said Nath has no constitutional right to run the government after losing majority, in view of 22 Congress MLAs tendering their resignation from the House.
"The number of Congress MLAs in the House has reduced to 92 (after resignation of 22 MLAs). We have 106 MLAs who have come to Raj Bhawan. The BJP has a clear majority now. The Congress government is evading the floor test," he said.
The Speaker had accepted the resignation of six of the 22 Congress MLAs.
To a query on the Assembly being adjourned over the coronavirus concern cited by the state government, Chouhan said, "Even coronavirus cannot save this unstable government".