Manipur Speaker Yumnam Khemchand on Saturday disqualified Thounaojam Shyamkumar as a member of the Assembly for defection.
Shyamkumar was elected to the Assembly as a Congress candidate on March 12, 2017, from 7-Andro constituency. The Congress had won 28 seats and the BJP 21. However, the BJP allied with the National People’s Party to form a government.
Before he was sworn in as an MLA, Mr. Shyamkumar joined the BJP and became the Minister for Forest and Environment in the government led by N. Biren Singh on March 16, 2017. He was sworn in as a member of the Assembly on March 19.
15 Congress MLAs filed petitions for Mr. Shyamkumar’s disqualification, arguing that he had violated the 10th Schedule of the Constitution. The 10th Schedule lays down the process by which legislators may be disqualified for defection by the Speaker on a petition by any other member of the House. As the petitioners were not happy with the inordinate delay in the disposal of the case, they moved the Manipur High Court and the Supreme Court.
On January 21 this year, the Supreme Court had set a deadline of four weeks for the Speaker to dispose of the case. As the Speaker did not comply with its order, the court on March 18 ruled that Shyamkumar had “ceased” to be a Minister and he could not enter the Assembly complex.
Mr. Shyamkumar argued that the 10th Schedule could not be invoked in his case as he became an MLA only on March 19, 2017. The Speaker’s tribunal brushed aside this plea, citing several court rulings.
On Thursday last, Mr. Shyamkumar submitted an official letter to the Speaker’s tribunal, expressing his “willingness” to resign from the Assembly.
The development is bound to have a political fallout since several MLAs of the BJP and its allies have been demanding a Cabinet shuffle.