Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Goa assembly vote shows clear bias

Goa has been going through a period of turmoil for many years now. Given that there are only 40 members in the assembly, and the 2 competing blocs of the Congress and BJP are not far away in terms of distribution of seats, there is the potential for a lot of horse-trading and governments getting over-turned. In the past, the Governor and the speaker would play key roles in fashioning a government as per their political affiliations. However, with the courts and the media getting more attentive on issues of horse-trading and bias shown by the speakers and the governor, the incidence of such misuse had decreased.
Well, no longer, since the current situation on Goa has turned all these beliefs upside down. In a test ordered by the Governor as the first business of the day, the speaker in an interim order disqualified 3 members from voting and with this change, the Congress managed to retain victory. Now, there was a hope that the Congress will provide a stable administration, but those hopes flew out of the window when 3 members moved out of the Congress side. But this action by the speaker on behalf of the Congress has just made things worse. This issue will be sure to go the courts for further decision-making:

Goa speaker Pratapsinh Rane has sparked a fresh controversy. That the speaker had not showcaused two MGP MLAs— whom he restrained from voting— was cited as a major infirmity in Rane’s case against them, and raised fears of judicial rebuff.
As soon as the House met, the speaker granted the petition of Congress MLA Agnelo Fernandes, who had filed a disqualification plea against two MGP members. Citing clause 2(b) of the 10th Schedule of the Constitution, the Speaker restrained the Dhavlikar brothers (Ramkrishna ‘Sudhin’ Dhavlikar and Pandurang ‘Deepak’ Dhavlikar) from participating in proceedings, denying them voting rights. Yet, as MGP is not part of Congress and was only a member of the ruling coalition, it was unclear how the clauses were applied to it.

In the past, the courts have taken on the cases where bias has been displayed by either the governor or speaker, and have not desisted from harshly criticizing actions that they feel are with malice or bias. The action by Buta Singh some time back falls in the same category. When this issue comes before the courts, the politicians will no longer be able to even complain about judicial intervention in the legislature, since these actions show clear illegality.

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posted by Ashish Agarwal @ 1:57 AM