Floor-test in limbo
Political turbulence in Madhya Pradesh saw a ten-day limbo as the Kamal Nath government evaded a floor-test due to the overarching concern of coronavirus outbreak that has spiralled the country. A delayed floor-test has all sorts of outcomes. Foremost, it can mark a dangerous atmosphere of horse-trading that both parties in contention must realise. Visibly though, it was Jyotiraditya's new outfit that expressed discontent over the delayed floor-test as it rushed to the Supreme Court (SC) for relief. BJP approached the SC challenging the State Legislative Assembly Speaker's decision to postpone the floor test. While levelling the charge of 'horse-trading being at its peak in the state' currently, the party sought immediate listing of the case in a curfew atmosphere that prevailed in the highest court's premises. The party contended that "any deferment of the floor test will further encourage horse-trading and would be in utter violation of the directions issued by the Governor and the law laid down by this court and the spirit and basic structure of the Constitution". It was quite convenient for the BJP to express a threat to the spirit and basic structure of the Constitution when the same has been overlooked in drafting the new citizenship law. The petitions challenging CAA in the SC also outline the basic structure of the Constitution which they see as flouted by the CAA. There cannot be two versions of the basic structure. The SC will get to decide that. But BJP contending for an immediate floor-test is unwarranted when seen from the light of the threat of Covid-19 that prevails. Madhya Pradesh Assembly Speaker's decision to defer the floor-test to March 26 is not uncorroborated and therefore cannot be dismissed as a partisan action. It qualifies in character. As the country stands at the brink of being brought down to a visible halt, all mass gatherings have been dismissed to prevent the spread. Global news should back the precautionary step. Union health advisory observing the same measure should sound relevant. In the light of that, pleading for an immediate floor-test is not appropriate. However, alleging horse-trading is not unfounded. BJP's accusation of horse-trading is something that must be heeded. It casts our democratic ideals in a poor light.
If the Court does find the matter unavoidable, a solution is to instal thermal scanners like in Parliament or SC and pave way for an early trust vote. The step may arise apprehensions of the virus spread with the very gathering of all legislators and journalists, but it appears to be the only feasible alternative keeping the safety measures issued by the Health Ministry. Further, if the floor-test is indeed conducted prior to March 26, the response to the urgent call for action that BJP has lamented should not be biased. If an early floor test notwithstanding the health concerns happens, the judiciary should then expedite the judicial review of CAA as well since both have been levelled to violate the basic structure of the Constitution. The judicial lens should not be influenced by partisan aims.
(Image from indiatoday.in)