The Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP) move to call a special one-day session of Punjab Vidhan Sabha for moving the confidence motion has failed to win Governor Banwarilal Purohit’s trust.
Acting on the representations by the Opposition leaders dubbing the move as “unconstitutional”, the Governor on Wednesday withdrew his Tuesday’s orders for summoning the special session on September 22, citing “legal” reasons.
Even as the opposition parties have welcomed the decision, the ruling AAP called it an “end of democracy”, and “new tactics to take away constitutional powers of state”.
A letter issued by the Principal Secretary of Punjab Governor JM Balamurugan, addressed to Punjab Vidhan Sabha Secretary Surinder Pal, stated that the decision was taken as there is “no legal provision to convene a Special Session to move ‘Confidence Motion’ only, in favour of the State Government”.
The Governor’s “orders” read, “In absence of the specific rules regarding summoning of the Assembly for considering the ‘Confidence Motion’ only called by the Punjab Government on 22nd September, 2022, through 3rd Special Session of 16th Punjab Vidhan Sabha, I, Banwarilal Purohit, Governor of Punjab, hereby withdraw my orders dated 20th September, 2022, regarding summoning the sixteenth Vidhan Sabha... at 11.00 am on.. the 22nd September, 2022, in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha hall...”
The Governor took the decision following the representations received against the convening of the session from the Opposition leaders, including Congress MLA and the Leader of Opposition in Vidhan Sabha Partap Singh Bajwa, Congress MLA Sukhpal Singh Khaira, and BJP MLA and State party chief Ashwani Sharma. Following this, the Governor also took a legal opinion from the Additional Solicitor General of India, who also opined that there was no such provision.
“This matter was examined and a legal opinion was sought from Satya Pal Jain, Additional Solicitor General of India. He has given his legal opinion that there is no specific provision regarding summoning of the Assembly for considering the ‘Confidence Motion’ only, in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business,” the letter said.
The AAP-led Punjab Government decided to convene the one-day special session amidst allegations against the BJP of trying to poach its MLAs in Punjab, by using money or muscle power. The State Cabinet, a day before, approved convening of the session to bring a “confidence motion” and prove “people’s trust in the government” amidst a political slugfest with the BJP over what the AAP alleged was an attempt to bribe its legislators to topple the Punjab Government under its ‘Operation Lotus’.
The one-day special session was expected to see a debate on the issue of alleged poaching attempts by the saffron party. It was also expected that the MLAs, who have been “approached” by the BJP, will also recount how the “callers” had approached them and what offers or threats they were given to join the saffron brigade.