The Congress on Friday forced an adjournment of Rajya Sabha proceedings over the conduct of the Goa governor in inviting Bharatiya Janata Party to form the government in the state after she reportedly consulted Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.
Congress members alleged breach of propriety and constitutional norms in the consultations Goa Governor Mridula Sinha held with Jaitley. They stormed into the Well of the House raising slogans against murder of democracy, forcing Deputy Chairman P J Kurien to adjourn the House till noon.
Earlier when the House met for the day, Digvijaya Singh (Cong) said he has given a notice under rule 267 seeking setting aside of the business of the day to take up “gross constitutional impropriety committed by Governor of Goa”.
Singh read out from an interview Sinha gave to a newspaper in which she reportedly said she did not expect BJP to form the government but spoke to Jaitley before arriving at the decision to call the party to form the government ahead of the Congress which had emerged as the single largest party in elections.
Kurien said the conduct of a Governor can be discussed only on the basis of a substantive motion and he had disallowed Singh’s notice under 267.
Leader of the Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad said the conduct of the governor was discussed when the Arunachal Pradesh issue was debated in the House.
“Why don’t you move a substantive motion,” Kurien asked.
“No. I have to go by rules. You can bring substantive motion, Chairman will consider it.”
Azad said his party colleague Singh had not raised any issue with the conduct of the governor but merely stated what she had said in an interview.
In the interview, he said, the governor said she did not accept BJP to form the government and she had called Jaitley at 2130 hours on Sunday night before inviting BJP to form the government.
“How can the governor seek permission of a Cabinet minister to form a government,” Azad asked as Kurien insisted on a substantive motion for any discussion.
Singh said the House was supreme and a sense of members present can be taken and his notice under rule 267 converted into a substantive motion.
Anand Sharma of the Congress said the Constitution clearly defines the duties and powers of Governor in appointing chief minister and it does not anywhere state that the Governor is supposed to consult serving cabinet minister.
“Constitution does not allow Governor to consult cabinet minister” for government formation, he said. Kurien said if the Governor has violated the Constitution, a substantive motion can be brought.
“You are going by a newspaper report. I am not bothered about that. I have made it very clear that if you feel that the Governor has violated any of the provision of Constitution, please bring a substantive motion. I cannot allow you to discuss the conduct of Governor,” he said.
Sitaram Yechury of the Communist Party of India-Marxist said a cabinet minister is answerable to House. To this, Kurien said if any minister has violated any provision of the Constitution, there can be a motion for that as well. “We can discuss that. I have no problem.”
Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said the government is ready to discuss if the Congress was to bring a substantive motion. He went on to say that the opposition party by its continued protests was insulting the verdict of the people as also the ruling of the Chair.
Congress members then trooped into the Well shouting slogans against what they said was murder of democracy. Treasury benches also countered the slogan shouting.
Kurien again said he was not against any discussion. “I am not denying or refusing any discussion... if you want to discuss (Governor’s conduct), please give a substantive motion. I will also request Chairman (to consider it) and then we can have a discussion anytime.”
But Congress members continued to insist on a discussion. Singh said Jaitley is a member of the House and he can avail of his right to reply. He then went on to state that a substantive motion will be given.
Azad said the House should be adjourned for an hour for the substantive motion to be framed and submitted and the same can be discussed thereafter.
But this was not agreeable to the Chair or the treasury benches. As the slogan shouting continued, Kurien adjourned the House till 1200 hours.