Jaya Prakash Adusumilli
Of late, a vast majority of Indians are confronted with a piquant situation, wherein the so called guardians of Constitution are displaying utter contempt towards the provisions of the Constitution and the spirit behind it. The latest offenders on the constitution being Governor of Andhra Pradesh, Speaker of AP Assembly and the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, who are considered to be the high priests of Constitution and have taken pledge in the name of the Constitution to protect the same, who have virtually molested the Constitution and the new capital of Andhra Pradesh, ie., Amaravati is a silent spectator for the massacre of the Constitution.
As per the provisions of the anti-defection law, which is a part of the Constitution, the people’s representatives, who shift their loyalties to another party, run the risk of forfeiture of their representative status. However, in the twin Telugu states of Telangana & Andhra Pradesh, the anti-defection law is nullified and the turncoats are rewarded with the ministerial berths. Even though the appointment of ministers is the prerogative of the Chief Minister, he shall exercise his powers within the frame work of the constitution. He is legally bound to select his own party members or neutral members, who are not affiliated to any other political party, as ministers in his cabinet. However, both the Chief ministers of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh are guilty of inducing defection in the opposition parties by offering ministerial posts as a reward for their defection. The Governor is duty-bound to remind the Chief Ministers of this provision in the Constitution and shall ensure stoppage of horse trading. However, the present Governor has not only subjugated the Constitution but in fact has encouraged defections by administering the oath of ministry to the defected members. It is expected that the President of India will interfere and prevent the Governor from violation of the Constitution. But President Pranab Mukherjee has displayed a studied silence on the matter.
Further, the role of Speaker in the entire episode has invited all-round condemnation. The office of Speaker is considered to be a sacrosanct institution and stalwarts like Ganesh Vasudev Mavalankar, Ananthasayanam Iyengar, who adorned the office of Speaker in the 1950s, have brought great credibility and respect to the institution. However, of late, degeneration and degeneration has occurred in the august office and utilizing the office of Speaker to meet their personal ambitions and supporting the political needs of the ruling party. The blame for degrading the Speaker’s position squarely lies on the doorstep of Congress party which has virtually destroyed the credibility of the Speaker position. However, the political parties, which have criticized the Congress party, have further denigrated the Speaker’s post whenever an opportunity was presented before them.
In the first Andhra Pradesh assembly meeting at Amaravati, the Speaker has stated that the opposition party of YSR Congress party has a strength of 66 MLAs. However, 20 of them have occupied the Treasury benches (The 21st defector Bhuma Nagireddy passed away recently) and the Speaker has chosen to ignore the same. Further, the speeches made by those 20 MLAs are being accounted on behalf of the YSRC party. The anti-defection law authorizes the Speaker to disqualify the defected MLAs. However, the present day Speakers, who are loyalists of the ruling party, follow the disqualification process only in its breach for years together, to suit the requirements of the ruling party. Accordingly, one MLA defected from Telugu Desam party has become a minister in the Cabinet of Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS).
The Chief minister of Andhra Pradesh has made a hue and cry at the defection of a single member from his party, whereas, he has ensured defection of 21 MLAs from YSRC party and made four of them ministers in his Cabinet. In both these cases, the Speaker has scrupulously followed the dikat of the ruling party and made a mockery of the Constitution and democratic system.
But the big question before the general public is why the present day governments of both the Telugu speaking States are indulging in such nefarious activities. The people of the two States have provided them with absolute majorities and presented an opportunity for them to function as statesmen. However, they are stooping very low to destroy the opposition parties and living in a figment of imagination that their parties would be winning elections after elections by dismantling the opposition and in the process they are surrounded by political touts and opportunists. In order to cover up their failures, they are creating a rift between various social segments. However, history of Indian elections are replete with various instances to show that the general public may be stubborn and unrelenting on various issues but when it comes to choosing their leaders, they have an uncanny ability to separate husk from the grain.
(The writer is a political analyst and former MLA from Vijayawada)