Proceedings of the Rajya Sabha were washed out on Wednesday as the Congress protested against the formation of Bharatiya Janata Party governments in Goa and Manipur, even as the ruling party asserted that the democratic norms were followed.
Raising the issue as soon as the House met for the day, the Congress members created ruckus and forced repeated adjournments by demanding sacking of the governors in the two states and installing of Congress governments there.
In view of the continuing protests and uproar, the House was adjourned prematurely for the day at around 3.10 pm.
While raising the issue, Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad said the Congress had emerged as the single-largest party in Goa and Manipur but the BJP installed its governments through their governors.
“The BJP has formed its governments in both Goa and Manipur after violating the Constitution and the Supreme Court judgment. We oppose it. Status quo should be maintained.
“We demand that the Governors of Goa and Manipur be removed and Congress chief ministers in both the states should be allowed to take oath,” Azad said.
Asserting that the Congress party will not accept the BJP governments in these two states, Deputy Leader of the Congress in the Rajya Sabha demanded that the House adopt a resolution against the role of the two governors.
Finance Minister and Leader of the House Arun Jaitley, however, maintained that the governments in Goa and Manipur are being formed as per the democratic norms.
He said after the assembly polls gave a hung verdict in these two states, the BJP formed the governments after firming up coalitions.
He said there are only two options before the Governor -- that of inviting the single-largest party or the alternative coalition.
Rejecting any wrong doing by the BJP, Jaitley cited the example of Jharkhand where his party, despite getting 30 seats in the 81-member assembly some years ago, was not invited to form the government and instead the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha with 17 seats formed the government along with some other parties.
Jaitley also said that in 1998 when the Vajpayee government was formed, the then President of India had also spelt out the option of an alternative coalition to be taken into account in government formation.
“The argument given by Mr Azad has been given yesterday (by the Congress) before the Supreme Court which has rejected it and instead said that the Congress should prove its numbers when the floor test is held....
“When the alternative coalition has a clear majority and they have written to and presented themselves before the governor, there is no scope of inviting a minority in a democracy. The principle of democracy is to have a government of a majority and not a minority,” Jaitley said.
He also said that the Congress had not even staked its claim of forming a government in Goa and had past midnight only thrown a letter into the Raj Bhawan premises to seek time from the governor.
Jaitley said it is clear that Goa and Manipur had hung assemblies and it is understood that when no party gets a majority, the government will be formed from amongst those elected.
“The Governor had two options -- to either invite the single largest party or to invite an alternative coalition. There are many precedents in the past,” the minister said.
While citing examples, he said, “In 1998, when the Vajpayee government came to power, the President of India at the time cited both the options of that were required to be examined -- to either invite the single largest party or examine the alternative coalition formed.
“The argument given by Mr Azad here has already been presented before the Supreme Court yesterday (Tuesday), which has rejected it. The Supreme Court told the Congress it will take only two minutes to show the 20 MLAs it has,” he said.
Azad earlier alleged that even though the BJP has a thumping majority in both Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, it has not even elected its leaders (of legislature party) there whereas in Goa and Manipur, despite being the second-largest party, it displayed haste in forming its governments.
“In Goa, seven powerful ministers and the sitting chief minister lost. It was a massive mandate against the BJP. There can’t be a bigger mandate against the government.
“Similarly in Manipur, the Congress government was destabilised by the government of India which adopted all kinds of means. Despite all that, the Congress got 28-seats,” he said.
Congress members repeatedly stormed the Well of the House, raising slogans like ‘Loktantra ki hatya band karo, band karo (stop killing democracy)’.
The opposition party, which forced four adjournments before the final one for the day, accused the BJP of ‘stealing mandate’ in Manipur and Goa where it was not invited to form government despite being the single largest party.
The Congress members cited rulings by the Constitution benches of the Supreme Court to state that the governor was bound to invite the party with the largest number of MLAs to form the government and prove its majority on the floor of the House.
They alleged that the Governors in the two states were ‘acting at the behest’ of the Centre.
After washout of the Zero Hour and the Question Hour, Deputy Chairman P J Kurien wanted to take up a discussion on the Budget but the continuous uproar did not allow it.
The BJP members also raised slogans to counter the shouting Congress members but they were not audible.
Just before adjourning the House for the day, Kurien tried to pacify the agitating Congress members but failed.