New Delhi: Over three weeks since BJP emerged victorious – albeit by a slim margin – in the Gujarat assembly elections on December 18, MLAs from the state are yet to take oath and begin work. The reason? They are waiting for an ‘auspicious period.’
Prompted by the delay, the NGO People’s Union for Civil Liberties has written to the governor O. P. Kohli, urging him to appoint a pro tem speaker and administer the oath of office.
According to state chief minister Vijay Rupani – who was speaking at an event on Thursday – the MLAs wanted the “month-long inauspicious period” till Makar Sankranti (January 14) to end before beginning the assembly session. A special session will hence be called after January 20. “The two-day session will be held for speaker’s election and the oath-taking of MLAs. The regular session (Budget session) will be after February 20, as per schedule,” Rupani was quoted by Indian Express as saying. The session will be held in a temporary set-up since the Vidhan Sabha is under renovation.
In their letter to the governor, the NGO led by Gautam Thaker has pointed out that the term of the current assembly ends on January 22, and an elected legislative assembly “is not in existence in the state” only because the previous one has been dissolved and the newly-elected members are yet to take oath. The state government is thus being run only by the council of minister. Their letter further demands: “Why is the Gujarat government working at such a slow pace? Why are MLAs not administered oath of office? Is there a crisis in the government?”
According to Indian Express, Thaker has pointed to the fact that the MLAs, elected on government expenses, were not in a position to work without taking oath.
Not only is the demand of MLAs to wait for an ‘auspicious’ time to take oath of office a hindrance to government work, it also disregards the fact that it is the constitutional duty of every citizen to promote scientific temper.
Shailesh Parmar, a three-time Congress MLA, said that for MLAs to be able to exercise the power of their office, oath-taking is a necessity. “Oath is a declaration of one’s loyalty to the constitution and no MLA can even use the letterhead if he/she has not taken oath,” Parmar said, adding that the MLAs should have been administered oath of office on December 26 itself along with the chief minister and his 19 ministers.