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Strange Floor Test of 1998: Revisiting Past When India Saw a Murkier Crisis in Uttar Pradesh

Kalyan Singh. (File photo: News18)

Kalyan Singh. (File photo: News18)

A strange situation occurred when the then Governor of UP, Romesh Bhandari, dismissed the BJP government-led by Kalyan Singh and instated Loktantrik Congress leader Jagadambika Pal as the new chief minister.

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday morning ordered a test to be held in 24 hours on the floor of the Maharashtra assembly to decide which camp will form the next government in Maharashtra — the BJP and Ajit Pawar-led faction of the NCP or the three-party combine of Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress.

The floor test is the latest in a string of such political spectacles that have been witnessed over the past few years from Uttarakhand in May 2016 to Goa and Manipur in March 2017 to Karnataka in March last year and again in July this year. However, a stranger floor test was to be seen in Uttar Pradesh assembly in February 1998.

The strange situation occurred when the then Governor of Uttar Pradesh, Romesh Bhandari, dismissed the BJP government-led by Kalyan Singh and instated Loktantrik Congress leader Jagadambika Pal as the new chief minister.

Pal who commanded the loyalty of 22 MLAs of his party withdrew support to the Kalyan Singh government and claimed to have the confidence of the entire house. Kalyan Singh successfully challenged Bhandari's decision in the Allahabad High Court. The matter was then heard by the Supreme Court. In the 'Jagdambika Pal vs Union Of India And Ors', the apex court ordered a floor test to determine who the real chief minister of the state would be.

So a unique situation occurred on February 26, '98 when two claimants to the position of the chief ministerialship were sitting in the assembly while a floor test was being conducted to determine who commanded greater strength in the house.

The floor test started at 11 in the morning and ended at 8 in the night. Kalyan Singh, who bagged 225 votes against Pal's 196, went on to win by 29 votes and was instated back to power as the UP chief minister.

According to a news report, if more than one person stakes claim to form government and and the majority is not clear, the governor may call for a special session to see who has majority. Some legislators may be absent or may choose not to vote. In such a case, the majority is counted based on those present and voting.


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