Madhya Pradesh Speaker NP Prajapati on Monday adjourned the proceedings of the state assembly till 26 March over the coronavirus scare, leaving the BJP incensed. Unhappy over Prajapati’s move, the saffron party wasted no time in approaching the Supreme Court, which will hear the matter on Tuesday.
This was after Madhya Pradesh Governor Lalji Tandon faced uproar in the assembly during his address forcing him to read only the last page of his speech. Angry Congress MLAs chanted ‘respect the house’ slogans amidst allegations of poaching by the BJP, which is accused of engineering a split in the ruling party to topple the government. As many as 22 Congress MLAs have taken refuge in BJP-ruled Karnataka, bringing the Kamal Nath government to a minority.
Elsewhere, assembly sessions in Odisha and West Bengal too have been adjourned over the coronavirus outbreak. The assembly session in West Bengal was curtailed on Monday, while this was adjourned till 29 March in Odisha. Even Kerala Assembly Speaker P Sreeramakrishnan announced the suspension of proceedings indefinitely in view of the coronavirus outbreak.
As first reported by Janta Ka Reporter on Sunday, Madhya Pradesh Assembly Speaker had has indicated that he may defy the Governor’s directive on the floor test today. Speaking to reporters on Sunday afternoon, Prajapati had said that the health of an individual must assume more significance than anything else.
Prajapati said that he was also concerned about the health of the democracy in light of serious allegations of the abduction of 20-plus Congress MLAs by the BJP. The MP Speaker said that he was the constitutional protector of all MLAs in the assembly adding that he was worried about those MLAs taking refuge in Bengaluru.
Prajapati was asked if he would delay the floor test due to coronavirus. To which he said that reporters must wait for tomorrow.
His comments came a day after Madhya Pradesh Governor Lalji Tandon directed Chief Minister Kamal Nath to seek a trust vote in the Assembly soon after his scheduled address on 16 March.
In his letter to Nath, the governor said, “I came to know that 22 MLAs have sent their resignations to the MP Assembly speaker and they have also informed about it on electronic and print media. I have seen the coverage on both media with attention.”
The letter by Tandon added, “They have also sent the letter to me separately on March 10, 2020 and the same MLAs have requested for security to present these resignation letters to the Vidhan Sabha speaker on March 13.”
The Madhya Pradesh government faced an existential crisis after former Congress MP Jyotiraditya Scindia rebelled against his party and joined the BJP. All 22 MLAs currently lodged in Bengaluru are believed to be his supporters.
The Congress had shifted its MLAs to Jaipur but they’ve now returned to Bhopal. The BJP too has taken its MLAs to Gurugram in Haryana.
Prajapati has already accepted the resignations of six rebel Congress MLAs, all ministers in the Kamal Nath government.