Dharamshala: Leader of the Opposition Mukesh Agnihotri has ridiculed the remarks of Chief Minster Jai Ram Thakur that the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker could campaign in election and challenged him tocite one instance in the country where Speaker of the Assembly had campaigned in a by-election. In a statement issued today he said it was shocking that the Chief Minister was virtually defending Speaker Rajiv Bindal for campaigning in the by-elections which was a grave impropriety. The Speaker was elected by majority but he hadto remain above party affiliation to conduct the house as its neutral chairperson.
Most leaders resign from party after being elected as Speaker upholding the highest democratic norms and to reinforce the neutral character of the office. He advised Jai Ram to learn a few lessons on democratic norms from the veteran BJP leader Shanta Kumar who ensured that Shrawan Kumar resigned as Speaker, before taking part in Janata Legislative Party meeting in July 1979. The crucialparty meeting was convened for trial of strength between Shanta Kumar and his rival Kishori Lal during tussle for leadership. It was an internal party meeting and not a floor test in the house but still the Speaker was asked to resign before taking part in party matters as he has to be neutral and above party politics for conducting the house in a fair and impartial manner.
The Constitution does not stipulate that the Speakers should resign from their parties at the time of election as Speaker. However, paragraph 5 of the 10th Schedule, which aims at curbing defection, exempts Speaker from disqualification on voluntarily quitting the party. It makes it clear that theSpeaker was expected to resign from the party membership on election as Speaker, otherwise there would be no purpose of the provision granting exemption from disqualification. It is appalling that in 2019 Chief Minister Jai Ram Thanks istrying to prove Ex CM Shanta Kumar wrong by justifyingopen canvassing by Speaker and Deputy Speaker. It reflects the decline of the “party with a difference” and its blatant attempts undermine democracy.
The party is setting new standards in electoral malpractices with each poll and taking the democratic processes to a new low. He also said that this fight will not end just here but will be taken to it’s logical end. It will be taken up with the Speaker in the Lok Sabha and also taken up with the President of India so that no Speaker dares to dishonor the sanctity of the chair he holds. It also shows the desperation of the BJP as it has been forced to drag the Speaker into the electoral arena to boost its campaign making it obvious that it was on a weak wicket.