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Speakers of NDA-ruled States may not attend meet

Tuesday 15 March 2005, by PARSAI*Gargi

NEW DELHI, MARCH 14. The confrontation between the Opposition National Democratic Alliance and the Lok Sabha Speaker, Somnath Chatterjee, escalated today with the NDA accusing him of creating an "unwarranted" controversy between the legislature and the judiciary.

After an hour-long meeting of the NDA and Telugu Desam Party (TDP) leaders here to discuss the coming Speakers’ Conference on "judiciary versus legislature" in the context of the recent developments in Jharkhand, the NDA virtually asked the Speakers of the States ruled by the alliance not to attend the meeting on March 20 and "kept open" the issue of bringing a no-confidence motion against the Speaker in Parliament.

The meeting, chaired by the Bharatiya Janata Party president and Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha, L.K. Advani, also urged the Speakers of non-NDA Legislative Assemblies to show "statesmanship with a constitutional vision before attending the Conference and assisting the Speaker to pursue an agenda which can be harmful to Indian democracy."

`Unwarranted’

A resolution adopted at the meeting and read out later by the NDA convener, George Fernandes, to mediapersons said: "The NDA is deeply disturbed with the attitude of the Speaker and his role in creating this unwarranted controversy. What is required is vision and statesmanship rather than a confrontationist posture by one occupying a high legislative responsibility."

It said the Jharkhand issue was related to the Governor’s "misconduct". "The task before the Supreme Court was to deal with the "unconstitutional" action of the Governor to install a minority government. The Supreme Court is well within its jurisdiction to quash the action of the Governor, if that action is wholly unconstitutional. The Court passed interim directions providing security to MLAs, shortening the period granted by the Governor for obtaining the vote of confidence. The order of the Court did not interfere with any legislative proceedings."

Asserting that there was no challenge before the Court of the proceedings within the House and that no such challenge could ever be made, the resolution said that the challenge to the action of the Governor and the judicial review in that context had been "deliberately misinterpreted to create a legislature versus judiciary issue."

"The Lok Sabha Speaker, instead of being concerned with the subversion of the democracy by the Governor and the pro tem Speaker, was concerned only with the remedy adopted to check the subversion," the resolution said.

Asked about the suggestion for a no-confidence motion against the Speaker, Mr Fernandes said: "The matter was discussed but no decision has been taken." Sources said that everyone wanted to "wait and watch" the situation rather than precipitate it.

Among those who attended the meeting were the Trinamool Congress leader, Mamata Banerjee, S.S. Dhindsa (Akali Dal), Ananth Geethe (Shiv Sena), B.J. Panda (BJD), Nitish Kumar (JD-U) and senior BJP leaders, Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley and S.S. Ahluwalia. The TDP was represented by K. Yerran Naidu.

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