Five BJP MLAs write to Speaker: “Treat our resignations as withdrawn”
Gadkari may ask Manhas to initiate dismissal of defaulters in Assembly
Ahmed Ali Fayyaz
SRINAGAR, Apr 21: Fearing dismissal under anti-defection law in the state Assembly, five of the seven BJP MLAs, accused of voting for the ruling coalition candidates in recent elections for Legislative Council, have petitioned Speaker Mohammad Akbar Lone to treat their resignations as “withdrawn”. Even as Prof Chaman Lal Gupta and Prof Garu Ram are still unfazed, political sources in
insist that the BJP President Nitin Gadkari was likely to ask Jammu & Kashmir head of his party to approach the Speaker for dismissal of all the seven MLAs. New Delhi
Informed sources revealed to Early Times that five of the opposition BJP MLAs, namely Jagdish Raj Sapolia, Master Lal Chand, Baldev Raj Sharma, Durga Das and Bharat Bhushan, today approached Speaker Mohammad Akbar Lone one after another with identical applications. The applicants have invariably requested the Speaker to treat their resignations letters as “withdrawn”.
In the wake of allegations of cross-voting against seven BJP legislators, the party high command had last week obtained resignation letters from all the eleven MLAs and initiated an inquiry into violation of the party whip by seven particular members. All the 11 MLAs of the party had subsequently handed over their resignations to General Secretary incharge J&K, O P Kohli.
According to sources, five of the BJP MLAs have written to the Speaker that the party high command had sought their resignation letters for investigation into the alleged cross-voting. They have asserted that the inquiry was underway but claimed emphatically that they had not violated the party whip and indulged in the cross-voting. In an attempt of pre-empting disqualification proceedings against them under the state anti-defection law, these MLAs have claimed that charges of cross-voting and violation of the party whip have not been proved against them.
Speaker, Mohammad Akbar Lone, confirmed to Early Times that he had received identical applications from five MLAs of BJP whose submission was that their resignation letters, which they have handed over to the party high command, may not be acted upon. According to him, five MLAs of the party have submitted that their resignation letters, as and when delivered for any action, be treated as withdrawn.
Mr Lone identified the five applicants as MLA Basohli, Jagdish Raj Sapolia, MLA Banni, Master Lal Chand, MLA Reasi, Baldev Raj Sharma, MLA Hiranagar, Durga Das and MLA Domana, Bharat Bushan. He, however, clarified that the Assembly Secretariat had not received any letter from the BJP or any of the MLAs’ resignation for any action under rules, till late tonight. Nevertheless, Prof Chaman Lal Gupta had been immediately removed as the BJP Legislature Party chief and replaced by MLA Nagrota, Jugal Kishore.
Seven MLAs, including both the Professors, have been placed under suspension and served show-cause notices on account of voting for the ruling NC-Congress coalition against huge bribes by the state government. After being interrogated by the party command on April 19th and 20th in New Delhi and on the basis of a report submitted by three senior party leaders, namely Jagat Prakash Nadda, O P Kohli, (national General Secretaries), and R P Singh, who had visited Jammu on April 14th, the legislators in the dock are fearing dismissal of membership in J&K Assembly under the state’s anti-defection law.
Party’s chief whip in Assembly and MLA Jammu East Ashok Khajuria, MLA Nagrota Jugal Kishore, MLA Marh Choudhary Sukhnandan and MLA Suchetgarh Sham Choudhary, are understood to have been given a clean chit by the party high command. BJP candidate had polled only four votes of these MLAs in the election for two seats of Legislative Council on April 13th, though chief whip Ashok Khajuria had directed all the MLAs of the party to vote for the party candidate. During the counting process, it became clear that four MLAs of BJP had voted for the Congress candidate Yashpal Khajuria and three more for the NC candidate Master Noor Hussain.
Sources said that the five MLAs had approached the Speaker after learning from New Delhi that the party chief and BJP’s head of the Parliamentary Board, Nitin Gadkari, was likey to ask J&K BJP unit President, Shamsher Singh Manhas, on Monday next to proceed against the defaulters with an exemplary disciplinary action. According to reports, Manhas would be directed to seek disqualification of the delinquent MLAs under anti-defection law in the state Assembly. All the seven suspects have been already placed under suspension in the party.
Sources revealed that at least two of these MLAs had sought legal opinion from a celebrated advocate who is understood to have advised them to take shelter under a legal provision that legitimizes defection of two-third strength of the legislators---seven in this particular case---as “split”. However, much is left to the Speaker’s discretion. Even as Prof Chaman Lal Gupta and Prof Garu Ram, had not submitted any application to the Speaker till late this evening, sources believe that the seven defectors could form a separate “split group” to protect their membership in the Assembly.