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BJP puts behind Raghavji scandal

The defection of the senior Congress legislator Rakesh Singh Chaudhury from the party on the day the no-confidence motion against the BJP-led Madhya Pradesh government was scheduled for discussion, has given a big jolt to the Congress party in the election year. The party was unprepared for such a damaging development and the BJP took full advantage of the opposition embarrassment.

It was Thursday 11 July 2013 — the day on which the opposition was to launch a blistering attack on the BJP government through their no-confidence motion. Preparations for the motion started almost two months back. The Congress was confident that their motion would expose the misdeeds of the Shivraj Singh Chauhan government.

But their highly ambitious plan was sabotaged by none other than by their own front bencher, Rakesh Singh Chaudhary. Before Ajay Singh, leader of the opposition could formally begin speaking on the no confidence motion, Rakesh Singh got up and stated that he was not a party to the motion. He said that he was opposing the motion as ‘his party’ failed to include his concerns in the motion. Elaborating on ‘his concerns’, he explained, ‘I wanted to mention about 721 Hindu pilgrims of Madhya Pradesh who are still missing in Uttarakhand. I also wanted former finance Minister, Raghavji’s involvement in the sodomy case to be included in the motion.’

He declared that he also wanted to oppose the Tweet by Digvijay Singh ‘Bacha bacha Ram Ka Raghavji Ke Kaam Ka’, referring to Raghavji episode. ‘I am a Hindu and I feel offended by such tweet’. The moment Chaudhary completed his brief speech, there was commotion in the House and further proceedings were drowned in the mayhem.

The question being asked in the political circles is after all why Chaudhary took such a drastic step. It may be recalled here that even when Jamuna Devi, a tribal was the leader of the opposition, Rakesh Singh used to run the show. Rakesh’s oratory is remarkable. He has mastery over the parliamentary skills. This gave him advantage over Jamuna Devi, who was not in good health and was never known as an effective speaker. After Jamuna Devi’s death he thought that he was her natural successor. But he was denied the leadership and instead Ajay Singh, son of late Arjun Singh, was named as leader of the opposition. Reportedly, he was backed by Digvijay Singh. Incidentally Ajay Singh is also related to Digvijay Singh.

From that day onwards, he had a lurking grievance not only against Digvijay Singh but also party’s Central leadership. Though by his name he appears to be Thakur but in fact he is a Brahmin. In private talks, including with this reporter, he used to claim that Congress in Madhya Pradesh had become the party of Thakurs and Rajputs. After his defection, during his interaction with the media, he listed the names of Congress legislators who happen to be Rajputs.

In the Congress politics he was regarded as the follower of Suresh Pachauri, a Brahmin. Suresh Pachauri a former union Minister had to give up the presidentship of the M.P. Congress under the pressure of Digvijay Singh. Prior to Rakesh Singh’s defection, Congress was celebrating the fact that Raghavjis scandal had given it a potent issue to attack the BJP. But this rejoicing proved to be short-lived. In fact Rakesh Singh’s defection came not only as a shock but has demoralised the rank and file of the Congress.

It is a matter of co-incidence that it was also in the month of July (year 1967) when the first major defection from the Congress took place. At that time 36 Congress legislators left the Congress, which resulted in the overthrow of D P Mishra’s government. That defection took place under the leadership of Thakur Govind Narayan Singh. It was a defection from the ruling party and this time’s defection is from the opposition.  There are many people who feel that Rakesh Singh came closer to BJP leadership when, with the help of the ruling party, his membership of MP Assembly was restored. Rakesh Singh along with Kalpana Parulkar was disqualified from the membership of the House during the last budget session, when during a heated debate, both the MLAs climbed atop the Speaker’s podium. But after sometime, the membership of both the legislators was restored. But this could be done in a special session of the Vidhan Sabha. Membership could not have been restored without the active cooperation of the BJP. Has Rakesh Singh returned the obligation by joining the BJP? This question is making the rounds in political circles.

Many observers feel that the Speaker, by adjourning the House sine die has done serious damage to parliamentary practice and traditions. No-confidence is considered to be highly sacrosanct part of the parliamentary practice. Whenever a no confidence motion is moved, it finds the top place in the agenda. GV Mavlankar, the first Speaker of the Lok Sabha, while addressing a conference of Presiding officers commenting on the no confidence motion said. ‘It is agreed that the right to bring no-confidence motion in the legislature is a valuable one and it should not be curtailed and circumscribed lightly.’
The Madhya Pradesh Vidhan Sabha Speaker should have allowed the opposition to move the motion of no confidence, even after one of its own members opposed it. The Speaker is often regarded as the guardian of the opposition. By his conduct on 11 July, Speaker Ishwar Das Rohni failed to perform his duty and also gave a clear-cut impression that he was tool in the hands of the government. The record of the 13th Vidhan Sabha has been dismal. The present session of the house began on 8 July and was to continue till 18 July. But it was abruptly adjourned leaving many issues undebated, including the motion of no-confidence. The functioning of the MP Vidhan Sabha has left a bad taste in the mouth of every person who holds the parliamentary system in high esteem.     IPA
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