NAINITAL: Rejecting their claim that they were still in the party, the Congress Chief whip today told the Uttarakhand High Court that the nine rebel MLAs had "in one voice" with the BJP legislators told the Governor that the Harish Rawat government was in minority and presented themselves as an alternative regime.
The submission was made before Justice U C Dhyani by advocate Amit Sibal, appearing for the Chief whip, who further argued that the nine were "paraded" before the Governor to show the "new majority". The judge was hearing the petition by 9 Congress MLAs who were disqualified by Assembly Speaker Govind Singh Kunjwal under the anti-defection law.
"Through the letter of March 18 morning and later the appearance in person of all the 35, they were presenting themselves to the Governor as an alternative government. They (the nine) need not have gone in person, yet they were paraded. Why would they go in person if not to show that they constitute a new majority.
"The joint memorandum was submitted on the letter head of Leader of Opposition Ajay Bhatt signed by all 35. It shows that the nine Congress MLAs were speaking in one voice with the 26 BJP MLAs," Sibal argued. He also contended that the nine were "hell bent" on seeking dismissal of the government by "whatever it takes", be it "making false statements" or "suppression of documents".
He also said that though the dissident Congress MLAs say that they are willing to support another Congress government under another CM, this is not said in the memorandum to Governor and as it was a joint memo, the BJP MLAs would never say that. Sibal further said, "Money bill or no money bill, on the morning of March 18 they told the Governor that the Congress government was in minority and that it was carrying on unconstitutionally. Therefore, their stand is clear and unequivocal."
"Their conduct cannot get any more overt than this. Money bill was the essence, the core of the party of which they are members. So if they sought a division of votes, that amounts to opposing the money bill. The Chief whip, who is also the complainant on whose plea the nine MLAs were disqualified, has also said that unlike what was claimed in court, the joint memo to the Governor by the 35 MLAs (26 BJP and nine Congress) did not contain a single criticism against the Chief Minister.
"Not a whisper of criticism of Chief Minister in the letter. What is the criticism of CM? It is not there on record. Their whole petition is based on the oral submission that they were criticising the CM," he said. Sibal said the government or the CM can be criticised without bringing down the government and added that a person need not "join" an opposite party. "Crossing floor of the house is enough," he said.
In response to the nine MLAs argument that they had differentiated themselves from the 26 BJP MLAs in the memo to Governor, Sibal said that the "break up" was given only to show how they have managed the majority of 35. "Break-up shown to seek dismissal of the government," he argued.
"They are Congress in name only. It is only a fig leaf. It is only a pad against the bouncers that Constitution may bowl at them," Sibal said regarding the nine dissident MLAs. Regarding the argument on behalf of the nine MLAs, that they approached the Governor only to seek a right to vote, Sibal said,"the memo/letter does not seek right to vote from Governor. It seeks dismissal of government of their party".
On whether the Yeddyurappa case applies to this matter as claimed by the dissident Congress MLAs, the Chief whip's counsel said,"they are trying to put a square peg in a round hole".
"In Yeddyurappa case, the BJP MLAs in their letter had levelled several criticisms against the CM and they had also said they do not want to bring the government of their party down. They only wanted a different CM. So facts are unique and different from that of this case," Sibal said.
Meanwhile, the division bench of Chief Justice K M Joseph and Justice V K Bist, which had quashed the President's Rule proclamation, today adjourned hearing in the petition challenging the Centre's ordinance--regarding expenditure of the state of Uttarakhand--till the Supreme Court disposes of the President's Rule case.