PUDUCHERRY: The fight between the BJP and Congress in the Union Territory reached new heights on Monday with Speaker of the Territorial Assembly V Vaithilingam rejecting the nomination of the three BJP men as MLAs by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA). Apparently, the move has poured cold water on the BJP’s hopes of making a backdoor entry into the Legislative Assembly during the winter session of the Assembly beginning November 23.
The MHA on June 23 nominated three BJP activists — V Saminathan, the president of BJP’s Puducherry unit, K G Shankar, party treasurer, and S Selva Ganapathy, a BJP-RSS sympathiser — to the Assembly without the recommendation of the incumbent government in the UT. This was communicated to Puducherry government on July 4. Notably, the BJP has no representation in the 30-elected member Assembly, while Congress has 15 , AINRC 8, AIADMK 4 and DMK 2 members. There is one Independent member also.
Though the appointment of the BJP men had caught the Congress government in the UT by surprise, it nevertheless issued a notification regarding their appointment as nominated MLAs. However, Parliament Secretary to CM K Lakshminarayanan simultaneously moved the HC challenging the appointment.
The Speaker had sought clarifications on the appointment and the identities of the three men nominated. However, within hours of approaching the Speaker for induction, Lieutenant Governor (L-G) Kiran Bedi administered the oath of affirmation to the three at Raj Nivas. Soon after this, the three had demanded that the Speaker provide them with privileges of an MLA, including seat and office inside the Assembly. But this demand was not granted by the Assembly.
It refused to accept their nomination citing that the appointment was not done by the ‘competent authority’ (President of India) and was waiting for a reply from the MHA. Later, DMK Legislature party leader R Siva also moved the HC challenging the appointment, while AIADMK Legislature party leader A Anbazhagan wrote to the Speaker asking him not to recognise the three as lawmakers as their nomination contradicted laws and democratic norms. Petitions on the same lines were submitted to the Speaker by Lakshminarayanan and Siva.
Hopes gone away
After returning from his US tour of three months on October 30, the Speaker reassessed the matter on receiving a reply from the MHA regarding the identity of the three BJP men. However, he decided against granting recognition to the three and Assembly Secretary A Vincent Rayar sent missives to them stating the Speaker had rejected their claim that they were duly nominated as MLAs and thereby entitled to facilities. Rayar stated the Speaker was of the considered view that their nomination was made by an ‘incompetent authority’ (MHA).
Not backing down
In no mood to take it lying, the three nominated MLAs said they would attend the opening day of the winter session on November 23 despite the Speaker’s rejection. They said it was their right as nominated MLAs. Saminathan, one of the nominated MLAs, said they were consulting national leaders, including BJP president Amit Shah. “The Speaker is not respecting the Union Territories Act, 1963, and the Puducherry government notification comes even after the MHA provided all clarification sought by the Legislative Assembly,” he said.