As Punjab Governor Withdraws Order Summoning Special Assembly Session, AAP Cries Foul

Banwarilal Purohit said House rules did not allow summoning a session just to pass a trust vote in favour of the government, earning praise from opposition parties.

Listen to this article:

New Delhi: Punjab governor Banwarilal Purohit on Wednesday withdrew his earlier order calling a special session to bring a confidence motion, earning criticism from the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and praise from the opposition.

The governor withdrew an earlier order calling the special session on Thursday, saying he had sought legal opinion after the Congress and the BJP approached the Raj Bhavan arguing that the House rules did not allow summoning a session just to pass a trust vote in favour of the government.

AAP national convener Arvind Kejriwal and Punjab chief minister Bhagwant Mann slammed the governor for the decision, while the opposition parties hailed the move, saying Purohit prevented the state government from “sabotaging the constitutional and legislative practices”.

The AAP had sought to prove its majority through a confidence motion in the assembly, days after it alleged that the BJP was trying to bring down its government in Punjab by poaching its MLAs. The party had recently claimed that at least 10 of its MLAs were approached by the BJP with an offer of Rs 25 crore to each to topple the six-month-old government.

With 92 MLAs, the AAP has an overwhelming majority in the 117-member Punjab assembly, while Congress has 18, SAD three, BJP two, and BSP one. The assembly also has one independent member.

The opposition BJP and the Congress had slammed the AAP move, accusing it of indulging in “theatrics” to divert the attention of people from its “failures”. They asked why AAP needed to move a trust vote when nobody had claimed that it had lost its majority in the House.

“In absence of the specific rules regarding summoning of the assembly for considering the ‘confidence motion’ only called by the Punjab government on September 22, through special session of 16th Punjab Vidhan Sabha, I Banwarilal Purohit, Governor of Punjab, hereby withdraw my orders dated September 20, regarding summoning the 16th Vidhan Sabha of the state of Punjab to meet for its third (special) session at 11 am on Thursday, September 22, in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha hall, Vidhan Bhavan, Chandigarh,” the latest order read.

Kejriwal hit out at the governor. “How can the governor refuse a session called by the cabinet? Then democracy is over,” the Delhi chief minister said in a tweet in Hindi.

His Punjab counterpart Mann said, “The governor not allowing the Assembly to run raises big questions on the country’s democracy.”

The BJP termed the governor’s move an “appropriate and constitutional decision”.

BJP national general secretary Tarun Chugh accused the AAP of trying to use the assembly for its “selfish political purposes”, claiming that its house of lies is crumbling and its credibility is falling.

Punjab Congress chief Amrinder Singh Raja Warring also welcomed the governor’s move for preventing the AAP government from “sabotaging the constitutional, democratic and legislative practices and procedures”.

SAD chief Sukhbir Singh Badal and party leader Bikram Singh Majithia too hailed the governor’s move, saying it will save crores of rupees of the state exchequer.

The governor’s decision came after Congress leaders Partap Singh Bajwa and Sukhpal Singh Khaira, and BJP leader Sharma approached the Raj Bhavan, arguing that there was no legal provision to convene a special session just to move a ‘confidence motion’ in favour of the state government.

In a letter to the governor, Khaira had stated that there is provision only for a no-confidence motion under the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Chapter XII Para 58(1) but not for any Motion of Confidence.

In his order withdrawing permission for the special session, the governor said he took the decision after seeking legal advice from the additional solicitor general of India Satya Pal Jain. Jain gave his legal opinion that there is no specific provision regarding summoning the assembly for considering the “confidence motion” only, in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business.