Bhopal: A BJP delegation on Tuesday met the Madhya Pradesh governor and urged him to review the Assembly speaker's decision to disqualify its MLA Prahlad Lodhi, following his conviction in a criminal case.
Speaker NP Prajapati on Saturday disqualified Lodhi after a Bhopal court last week sentenced the Pawai MLA and 12 others to two years in jail for attacking Raipura tehsildar RK Verma in August, 2014 for seizing a tractor smuggling sand.
“We have conveyed to Governor Lalji Tandon that the speaker’s decision to disqualify Lodhi is not in accordance with the law," said Sitasharan Sharma, ex-speaker and MLA, who led the BJP delegation.
Sharma said the delegation also conveyed that in such cases, as per Constitutional provisions, only the governor can take a decision about an MLA's disqualification. "The speaker’s decision is not in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution and Representation of The People Act," Sharma added.
He said the party would give a detailed memorandum on the issue to Tandon later in the evening, and expressed hope Lodhi would get relief from the high court.
Meanwhile, Chief Electoral Officer VL Kantha Rao also said the assembly was empowered to disqualify an MLA and a by-election is due within next six months in Madhya Pradesh with a seat falling vacant. “We have informed the Election Commission of India about the seat falling vacant,” added the officer.
The Congress' state media cell coordinator, Narendra Saluja, said the decision was taken as per a Supreme Court ruling of 2013.
The speaker had earlier said that according to the SC ruling, a public representative should be disqualified as soon as he or she is convicted and the rule was followed in Lodhi's case after the Assembly secretariat got a certified copy of the trial court’s order.
An Assembly official said, a legislator is disqualified if he or she is sentenced to two years or more in jail. With Lodhi's disqualification, the BJP's strength in the 230-member MP Assembly now stands at 107 against the Congress' 115.
Sources said former chief minister and senior BJP functionary Shivraj Singh Chouhan was summoned by the party’s central leadership in New Delhi on Tuesday as the latter is said to be unhappy with the state unit’s response to the MLA’s disqualification.
State minister Govind Singh said the BJP leadership was unnerved as some more MLAs were likely to face a similar situation for their involvement in corruption and criminal cases.
“The assembly secretariat has expelled Lodhi using his powers and according to my knowledge, the governor cannot intervene into this matter,” Singh said.
Further, he said when Lodha has already moved the high court, there was no reason for the BJP MLAs to meet the governor over the issue.
Congress leader Abhay Dubey said Article 192 of the Constitution clearly states that the matter would reach the governor only in case the ineligibility of an MLA is not clear.
“When the MLA has been convicted by a court and the Assembly has declared him ineligible to continue as an MLA in the light of the Supreme Court order, the BJP cannot take help of the said article,” he said.
(with inputs from PTI)