J&K Assembly to miss presidential polls for 2nd time in history

The Indian Express | 1 week ago | 23-06-2022 | 07:50 pm

J&K Assembly to miss presidential polls for 2nd time in history

As India elects its next president on July 18, the Legislative Assembly of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir will not be a part of the exercise for the second time in the history of the election to the top constitutional post.There have been precedents of legislative assemblies of states not being part of the presidential polls on account of their dissolution, the first such instance being of Gujarat in 1974.The assemblies of Assam, Nagaland and Jammu and Kashmir too could not participate in subsequent elections on account of dissolution.In the present case, the Legislative Assembly of Jammu and Kashmir is yet to be constituted after the erstwhile state was bifurcated into the Union territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh in 2019.The Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act provides for a Legislative Assembly for the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, but the election is yet to be held due to various reasons.In 1974, Gujarat was in the throes of the Navnirman movement, which led to the dissolution of the state government headed by Chimanbhai Patel.Against the backdrop of demands to postpone the presidential polls, a reference was made to the Supreme Court to get its opinion and nip any controversy in the bud.The apex court had opined that the presidential polls had to be held and completed in such time as may enable the president-elect to enter the office on the expiry of the term of office of the outgoing president and therefore, the election should be held even if the Gujarat Legislative Assembly was not in existence then.The Supreme Court had noted that Article 54 of the Constitution mentioned the houses of Parliament and legislative assemblies only for the purpose of showing the qualifications of the members of the electoral college.“The elected members of a dissolved legislative assembly of a state are no longer members of the electoral college consisting of the elected members of both houses of Parliament and elected members of the legislative assemblies of the states and are, therefore, not entitled to cast votes at the presidential elections,” the top court had opined.In 1992, the legislative assemblies of Jammu and Kashmir and Nagaland were dissolved and thus, could not be part of the 10th presidential polls that elected Shankar Dayal Sharma to the top constitutional post.In 1992, Jammu and Kashmir had gone unrepresented in the presidential polls as the election to the Lok Sabha too could not take place in the erstwhile state in 1991 due to insurgency.However, in the July 18 presidential polls, five Lok Sabha members from the Union Territory — Farooq Abdullah, HasnainMasoodi, Akbar Lone, Jugal Kishor Sharma and Jitendra Singh — are eligible to cast their votes.In 1982, when Giani Zail Singh was elected as the president, the legislators from Assam could not vote as the Assembly was dissolved.

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Maharashtra Speaker’s election today: Stage set for first test for new CM Shinde
The Indian Express | 3 days ago | 03-07-2022 | 03:50 am
The Indian Express
3 days ago | 03-07-2022 | 03:50 am

WITH THE Speaker’s election slated for Sunday after Shiv Sena announced the candidature of its MLA Rajan Salvi for the post against BJP’s Rahul Narwekar, the stage is set for the first test for the newly sworn-in Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and his group of Sena rebels, and for BJP and the Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis.Shinde and Fadnavis were sworn in on Thursday and the Governor has called for a special session of the assembly on Sunday and Monday for the Speaker’s election followed by a floor test. The election will mark the first battle in the House between Uddhav Thackeray-led Sena which has 16 MLAs, and Shnde-led rebel group with 39 MLAs.On Saturday, Shiv Sena chief whip Sunil Prabhu issued a whip, asking all the MLAs to be present in the assembly and cast their votes in favour of Salvi.Replying to the whip issued by Prabhu, Chief Minister Shinde asserted that it does not apply to his group as they have more than two-thirds of the total 55 Sena MLAs. He said, “We will face the floor test and we will win”.Sources said a separate whip is likely to be issued by the Shinde faction for the election and the floor test.Ajay Chaudhari, Shiv Sena legislative party leader said, “We have a strategy in place but I can’t disclose it now.’’ Shiv Sena MP Arvind Sawant said, “We will fight the Speaker’s election and we believe in the Constitution. I have heard that the Shinde faction spokesperson Deepak Kesarkar said that Uddhav Thackeray is their leader. These MLAs now must obey the whip and vote for Rajan Salvi.”Shiv Sena parliamentary party leader Vinayak Raut said, “We have issued a whip that the rebel MLAs should vote for Rajan Salvi. If they don’t, it will be an added material in our case in Supreme Court for disqualifying them.”A three-time MLA, Salvi was accompanied by Shiv Sena MP Arvind Sawant, Sena legislature party leader Ajay Chaudhari, state NCP chief Jayant Patil, and Congress legislative party leader Balasaheb Thorat while filing his nomination for the election.Meanwhile, late Friday night, Thackeray sacked Shinde from the post of Shiv Sena leader in party organisation for indulging in “anti party activities’ ‘.“Dear Shri Shinde, You have been indulging in anti-party activities and have also voluntarily given up your membership of Shiv Sena. Therefore, in exercise of the powers vested in me as the Shiv Sena Paksha Pramukha, I remove you from the post of Shiv Sena leader in the party organisation,” the letter issued by Thackeray read.The move came after Shinde and Devendra Fadnavis took oath as CM and deputy CM respectively on Thursday. Sources in Shinde camp said that they will challenge the letter legally.Ahead of the Speaker’s election, the rebel Sena MLAs and Independent MLAs returned to Mumbai on Saturday evening after spending almost 11 days out of the state — first in Gujarat, then in Assam, and then in Goa. They arrived in Mumbai on a special flight and will be camped at a south Mumbai five-star hotel along with BJP MLAs.Addressing them, CM Shinde asserted that the whip of state legislative leader Bharat Gogawale, who is a part of his group, will be applicable to them, and not that of Shiv Sena’s which has been reduced to a minority.Security was beefed up in Mumbai and police security was deployed along the route from Mumbai airport to South Mumbai hotel to avoid any untoward incident.As the floor test is also scheduled on Monday, Shiv Sena president and former CM Uddhav Thackeray held meetings with party leaders to carve out a strategy. Congress MLC Bhai Jagtap and Congress working president Charan Singh Sapra also met Thackeray at Matorshree Saturday afternoon and all MVA leaders held a meeting in the evening.The NCP legislature party will hold a meeting on Sunday morning to decide their strategy. State NCP president Jayant Patil said, “I feel elections should not be held. All three parties gave a letter… We have a deputy Speaker, Narhari Zirwal, and he has the right to run the House… When the government has changed, Koshyari has allowed elections for a Speaker and people are watching these developments.”Congress spokesperson Atul Londhe said, “Earlier, MVA demanded election of Speaker and it was denied by the Governor quoting law related to elections. Now, we can’t understand the reason to have elections. The Governor should not forget that he is a constitutional authority, and not a BJP worker.”

Maharashtra Speaker’s election today: Stage set for first test for new CM Shinde
Planetary distance in km: Giant leap for HC ire
Times of India | 3 days ago | 03-07-2022 | 03:24 am
Times of India
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Ahmedabad: The Gujarat high court was furious at the Lok Rakshak Dal (LRD) Recruitment Board after it came to know that the board has advanced its next stage of recruitment even after the court issued a notice over complaints of seven wrong answers and the change in the value of negative marks for wrong answers in a written test taken last month.The grouse of the petitioners was with the answer key that the board had declared. In that key, one of the answers related to how distance between planets is measured. Of the answers (metre, kilometre, mile, and light year), the key said that kilometre or mile were the correct answers. The candidates approached the court asserting that even in school, they were taught that this distance is measured in light years.The first petition was heard by Justice Biren Vaishnav on June 17, when candidates complained about the board’s decision to increase the value of negative marks from 0.25 to 1.25 for each wrong answer or unattempted question. The petitioners said that this change in the rule was made after the advertisement was published and hence was not legal and should be quashed. They said that the board had cancelled two questions, but no grace mark was offered. They also pointed to a question on the President of India’s election. The judge asked the government lawyer, “What does LRD have to do with the President’s election? Why do you ask such complicated questions for LRD recruitment?”These candidates objected to the answer stated as right for the measurement of distance between planets. The court issued a notice and posted a hearing on July 21. When the lawyer sought an early hearing, the judge hinted that much time would elapse before the next stage of recruitment, “It is light years ahead.”The court had received another such petition from nearly 100 candidates on June 29. The next day, one more candidate approached the court. When the court proposed the next hearing on July 21, the candidate submitted that after the first hearing, the board tweeted in 15 minutes of the issuance of the court notice and advanced the verification process for candidates. This angered the judge, “God forbid if there is an attempt at overreaching the court process.” The judge added: “Then you (board) will help yourself. I will set aside the whole selection process. Try and do something before July 21.” Further hearing is to take place on July 8.Scheduling an early hearing, the judge said, “Apparently it is a wrong answer, miles and kilometres... even sixth standard students will know it and the LRD board does not know what the correct answer is. And they are sitting in the selection committee.”

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Arvind Kejriwal to be on two-day Gujarat visit from Sunday; to hold town hall meet on ‘free electricity’
Times of India | 4 days ago | 02-07-2022 | 03:19 pm
Times of India
4 days ago | 02-07-2022 | 03:19 pm

AHMEDABAD: Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) national convener Arvind Kejriwal will be on a two-day visit to Gujarat from Sunday, during which he will hold a town hall meeting on "free electricity" and also administer oath to the newly-appointed party office-bearers, a party leader said here. During his two-day stay in Ahmedabad, the Delhi chief minister will also hold meetings with senior leaders of the AAP and interact with party members, he said on Saturday. The Kejriwal-led party is gearing up to contest elections to the 182-member Assembly in BJP-ruled Gujarat to be held by the end of this year. "Kejriwal will reach Ahmedabad airport at 3 pm on Sunday. He will administer oath to 7,500 newly-appointed office bearers at a function at 4 pm. They will take pledge to work whole-heartedly for the party and encourage workers for the upcoming Assembly election," AAP's national joint secretary Isudan Gadhvi told reporters here. These office-bearers were appointed after the AAP dissolved its state organisation structure early last month, he said. "For the people suffering due to inflation, our party has launched a 'Muft Bijli' campaign. If people in Delhi and Punjab can get free electricity, then why not those in Gujarat?" he asked. On Monday, Kejriwal will hold a town hall on "free electricity," nearly two weeks after the party launched a state-wide stir demanding free electricity for domestic consumers from the BJP government, he said. Discussions will also be held on the party's "guarantee card," or election manifesto for Gujarat Assembly polls are scheduled in December, Gadhvi added. The AAP functionary accused the ruling party of misleading people by saying that the citizens of Gujarat do not need free electricity as he referred to a statement made by BJP's state unit president C R Paatil. "I would like to appeal to those leaders who do not need free electricity to put up a board outside their house declaring the same, so that more poor people can get free electricity," he said. AAP leaders in Gujarat believe that the party's "free electricity" campaign will play a key role in the Assembly polls as they said that lakhs of people have supported it across the state. The party leaders and workers organised padyatras, mashal and bicycle yatras in different parts of the state and sought from the people their support for the campaign. The party has promised free electricity to the people when voted to power.

Arvind Kejriwal to be on two-day Gujarat visit from Sunday; to hold town hall meet on ‘free electricity’
The case of the disappearing numbers: A look at recent floor tests
The Indian Express | 6 days ago | 30-06-2022 | 11:50 am
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6 days ago | 30-06-2022 | 11:50 am

Uddhav Thackeray resigned as Chief Minister of Maharashtra Wednesday, after the Supreme Court did not stay the Assembly floor test scheduled for June 30 called by Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari, and he faced the prospect of 40-odd of 55 Shiv Sena MLAs with the Eknath Shinde camp. The Sena’s petition seeking disqualification of 16 of the rebel MLAs remains pending.The crisis that brought down the Maha Vikas Aghadi coalition government has several parallels – from hung Houses to new alliances, to petitions in the Supreme Court:July 2019The 2018 state elections threw up a hung Assembly, with the BJP winning 104 seats, the Congress 80, the JD(S) 37, along with three Independents, in the 224-member House. With the BJP failing to reach the majority mark of 113, forcing BJP leader B S Yediyurappa to step down as Chief Minister within three days, the Congress and JD(S) forged an alliance with the JD(S)’s H D Kumaraswamy as CM.In July 2019, the coalition government hit shaky ground when 17 MLAs (14 from the Congress and three from the JD-S) sought to quit the Assembly, citing differences with the government and CM. The Speaker, K R Ramesh Kumar, elected on the Congress ticket, refused to accept their resignation. With the BJP seen as behind the move, the Congress and JD(S) approached the Speaker seeking that the 17 be disqualified and not allowed to contest the election during the tenure of the then Assembly.The Governor asked the Kumaraswamy government to take a floor test twice, and finally on July 23, 2019, the Congress-JD(S) Ministry fell. The Speaker went on to disqualify the MLAs, which remained away from the Congress-JD(S) reach and sequestered in hotels, and Yediyurappa returned as CM after winning a floor test in the truncated-House of 208. The BJP was able to muster support of 105 MLAs, against the Congress and JD(S)’s combined total of 99.In November 2019, on the plea of the 17 MLAs against the Speaker’s order, the Supreme Court upheld their disqualification but not the directive that they could not contest the election till 2023. In the bypolls held the next month, 11 of the 17 were re-elected to the House, on BJP tickets.October 2010The Yediyurappa-led BJP government had a slender majority – at 117, just four more than the cut off mark of 113. In October 2010, 11 of its MLAs withdrew support. The Congress and JD(S) had 101 MLAs, and posed a challenge in case of six Independents swaying their way.On October 6, the Speaker, K G Bopaiah, allied to the BJP, disqualified the rebel MLAs under the anti-defection law, just after Governor Hans Raj Bharadwaj had asked Yediyurappa to initiate a trust motion. With the rebel MLAs disqualified and the House strength down to 213, Yediyurappa won the trust vote by a voice vote and support of 106 MLAs, amid chaos.In May 2011, the Supreme Court held that some of the actions of the Speaker in disqualifying the 11 MLAs did not “meet the twin tests of natural justice and fair play”. It also said Yediyurappa had ignored Constitutional norms.January 2006The 2004 Karnataka Assembly polls had thrown up a hung verdict, with the BJP winning 79 seats, the Congress 65 and the JD(S) 58. The Congress and JD(S) initially formed an alliance with Dharam Singh of the Congress as CM.In January 2006, a dissident group of 42 MLAs of the JD(S), led by Kumarswamy, withdrew support to the Congress, and allied with the BJP. Dharam Singh resigned and the Governor invited the BJP and JD(S) to form the new government.Kumaraswamy struck a deal that the two parties would hold power for 20 months each. But the coalition collapsed in October 2007, after the JD(S) reneged on transferring power to the BJP. President’s rule was imposed, and the next Assembly elections were held in May 2008.2019In March 2019, newly appointed Chief Minister Sawant urged Governor Mridula Sinha to summon the Assembly for a floor test on March 20, 2019, after sitting CM Manohar Parrikar’s death. Sawant resigned from the Speaker’s chair before he was sworn in as CM ahead of the floor test, and Michael Lobo, then Deputy Speaker, carried out the proceedings.The Congress had 14 MLAs, the BJP 12. The Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) and Goa Forward Party (GFP) had three each. The NCP had one candidate and there were three Independents. The strength of the Goa Assembly is 40, but there were only 36 sitting MLAs at the time (Parrikar and BJP MLA Francis D’Souzaas had died and two Congress MLAs had resigned).Sawant won the floor test with the support of 20 MLAs, after the MGP and GFP MLAs as well as three Independents voted for him.Sawant consolidated his strength in July 2019, after 10 Congress MLAs and two MGP MLAs defected to the BJP.1995The BJP won 121 of 182 seats in the 1995 Assembly elections in Gujarat – its highest till then – in the backdrop of the Babri Masjid demolition and the subsequent riots. However, many MLAs were upset with Keshubhai Patel being made CM. Patel was believed to have the backing of then BJP general secretary and Gujarat in-charge Narendra Modi.While Patel was away in the US, leaving Ashok Bhatt behind as caretaker CM, Shankersinh Vaghela, then a BJP MP from Godhra, claimed the backing of 105 MLAs and launched a coup in September 1995.The MLAs were first taken to Vaghela’s village in Vasan and later to the home of a Congress leader in a village in Gandhinagar. While some of the MLAs were lured back by the BJP, Vaghela flew the remaining 55 out to Congress-ruled Madhya Pradesh overnight.They only returned after senior BJP leader Atal Bihari Vajpayee agreed to replace the CM. Suresh Mehta was subsequently appointed CM.But as remnants of the discontent followed the party, in 1996, during a meeting to felicitate Vajpayee, now the Prime Minister, the MLAs literally came to blows. An MLA was stripped of his dhoti and another was nearly set ablaze.The House was placed under “suspended animation”. The Governor was hospitalised at the time when Vaghela staked claim to form the government after parading 103 MLAs before him, including of the BJP, Congress and some Independents. The BJP MLAs numbered 48, more than one-third of the total, thus escaping the anti-defection law. Vaghela became CM.(with inputs from Johnson T A, Mayura Janwalkar, Leena Misra)

The case of the disappearing numbers: A look at recent floor tests