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Cong. rebel MLAs recognised as separate group in U.P.

The U.P. Congress Legislative Party leader, Pramod Tiwari, arguing with the Assembly Speaker, Kesrinath Tripathi (right), at his chamber in Lucknow on Tuesday. — Photo: Subir Roy

The U.P. Congress Legislative Party leader, Pramod Tiwari, arguing with the Assembly Speaker, Kesrinath Tripathi (right), at his chamber in Lucknow on Tuesday. — Photo: Subir Roy  

LUCKNOW JAN. 28. In a new twist to the power equations in Uttar Pradesh, eight Congress legislators today announced their decision to sever their links with the parent body and form a separate group in the State Assembly.

The Speaker, Kesrinath Tripathi, formally recognised the group as a separate entity saying that under the provisions of the Anti-Defection Act, they had fulfilled all the conditions for a split. Eight out of the 24 Congress MLAs had written to him that, displeased with the policies of the party on whose ticket they had won the last elections, they had decided now to form a separate group, Mr Tripathi told newspersons. After considering in detail the facts and circumstances of the case, he had recognised the new group to be known as the Akhil Bharatiya Congress Dal.

A shocked Congress leadership, reacting sharply to the Speaker's decision, said his action was against all norms of honesty and law and amounted to murder of democracy.

In fact, the Speaker's chamber itself witnessed some unsavoury moments with the Congress Legislature Party leader, Pramod Tiwari, making serious remarks against Mr. Tripathi. He threatened to bring a motion of no confidence against the Speaker and challenge his decision in court.

``This Government could not be saved in any case and would fall the very day the Assembly is called to session,'' Mr. Tiwari said in the presence of the Speaker.

The Speaker's decision was announced after several hours of suspense when the Congress MLAs remained closeted with him in his inner chamber. First, the eight MLAs came out to announce their decision to form a group in the interest of political stability and development in the State.

Then Mr. Tiwari emerged from the inner room of the Speaker's office and angrily accused Mr. Tripathi of acting in a dishonest manner.

Mr. Tiwari said Akhilesh Singh had been expelled from the party long ago. The fact had been duly conveyed to the Speaker who later gave his ruling to declare Mr. Singh as an unattached member. But today, Mr. Singh's name had been included in the list of eight defecting members only to increase their strength to one third of the total number of Congress MLAs in the Assembly, he charged.

According to Mr. Tiwari, his party had 23 members excluding Mr. Singh and a strength of eight among them was necessary to formalise a split.

While Mr. Tiwari was still addressing mediapersons in his outer chamber, the Speaker came out for his formal briefing. He condemned the "intemperate manner" in which the Congress leader had reacted against him. While it was any member's right to move a motion of no-confidence against the Speaker, he had no right to use uncivilised language, Mr. Tripathi said.

Justifying his decision to recognise the Congress "split", the Speaker said according to the Supreme Court judgment in the G. Vaidyanathan case, the Anti-Defection Act did not recognise any member as "unattached". The description of "unattached" was only for the functioning of the legislature and as far as the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution was concerned, such a member would continue to be considered as a member of the party on whose symbol he had won the elections.

Thus, while Akhilesh Singh was an unattached member for the convenience of the functioning of the Assembly, he continued to be a Congress member in terms of the Anti-Defection Act.

The Speaker rejected Mr. Tiwari's charges that the Congress members had been "coaxed" in his chamber for five hours to engineer the split. He took a long time to give his decision because he wanted to consider every aspect of the situation and facts before recognising the split.

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