Prof Nageshwar – The politics behind YSR CP resignations

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The speaker accepted the resignations of YSR Congress MPs. But, she has delayed it to the extent that there will not be any by elections as per the section 151A of the Representation of the People’s Act. In the process, the speaker violated the spirit of the supreme court judgement in Election Commission of India Vs Bajrang Bahadur Sing(Para 69) of 2015. This delayed decision of the speaker gives credence to the criticism that the YSR Congress has a clandestine understanding with the BJP.

As per the section 151A of the Representation of People’s act , there cannot be any by -elections now. In fact, there was more than one and a half months time for the Speaker to accept the resignations so that the by elections could be held. The section 151 A states Time limit for filling vacancies referred to in sections 147, 149, 150 and 151. Notwithstanding anything contained in section 147, section 149, section 150 and section 151, a bye-election for filling any vacancy referred to in any of the said sections shall be held within a period of six months from the date of the occurrence of the vacancy:

Provided that nothing contained in this section shall apply if-

(a) the remainder of the term of a member in relation to a vacancy is less than one year.

In fact, the Speaker acted in such a way that the said section will operate and by-elections will not be held in the five seats vacated by the resignation of YSR Congress MPs.

The speaker should have considered the apex court judgements to speedily act on the resignations. The Supreme Court in Election Commission of India Vs Bajrang Bahadur Sing (2015) said , “The question, therefore, is as to how to reconcile the two apparently conflicting constitutional obligations…(Para 69)”.

The first one is the Speaker’s obligation to decide on the resignation submitted by the members. The second is the Election Commission’s obligation to hold the election within a period of six months from the date of occurrence of the vacancy.

Thus, the supreme Court’s judgement clearly puts the obligation on the office of the august Constitutional institution , Speaker to speedily decide on the resignation so that the Election Commission of India would be in a position to discharge its Constitutional obligation to hold the elections within a period of six months if the Lok Sabha seat falls vacant on the Speaker accepting the resignation.

Thus, the Speaker’s delayed decision is a clear violation of the representation of the People’s act and the Supreme Court judgement in Bajrang Bahadur Sing case.

Then the next is the political question. Why did the Speaker act so? There can be two possible explanations for this.

Though, the office of Speaker is a politically neutral one, everyone knows that the reality is not so. Speakers and Governors acted in the interests of the party they belonged to before occupying those august offices.

Therefore, it is not wrong to conclude that the ruling BJP wanted to avoid by-elections. The TDP ‘s allegation is that the YSR Congress has a clandestine deal with BJP. The delayed decision of the Speaker to avoid by-elections is therefore an illustration of this deal. This cannot be ruled out due to the suspicious behaviour of YSR Congress towards BJP in the past too which was explained through these columns in the past.

The second possible explanation is that the BJP has to contest these five seats if by-elections are held. In fact, in alliance with TDP , the BJP contested in the two of these five seats in 2014. Thus, the by-elections would expose the real strength of BJP. The political trend is quite obvious . The BJP would be decimated in all these five seats if by-elections are held. Perhaps, the BJP cannot welcome such a humiliation in the run up to 2019 elections that would have an implication for the national politics.

The third possible explanation is that the BJP does not want to give an advantage to its estranged ally, the TDP. The TDP has nothing to lose if by-elections are held. It has everything to gain. If the YSR Congress retains all the five seats, it does not send any message that would hurt TDP . But, if the YSR Congress looses any of them or wins with reduced margins, the TDP will have a political scoring point for 2019.

Therefore, the TDP will not hesitate for by-elections. Therefore, the YSR Congress allegation that the TDP with its secret understanding with BJP ensured that the speaker delayed decision does not hold water.

( Prof.K. Nageshwar is India’s noted political analyst. He is a former member of the Telangana Legislative Council and professor in the Department of Communication & Journalism, Osmania University, Hyderabad, India )

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