BHOPAL, March 16 - Citing coronavirus concerns, the 15-month-old Kamal Nath government in Madhya Pradesh teetering on the brink of collapse got a reprieve from the Assembly Speaker who did not take up the floor test on Monday as directed by the Governor and adjourned the State Assembly till March 26.
As Governor Lalji Tandon asked Chief Minister Kamal Nath to test his majority on Tuesday in a fresh directive following the resignation of 22 Congress MLAs, the tussle for power in the central State also moved to the Supreme Court with a miffed senior BJP leader Shivraj Singh Chouhan seeking its intervention.
Chouhan, a former Chief Minister, sought a court direction to the State government to face a floor test, shortly after Speaker NP Prajapati announced the adjournment of the Budget Session which commenced on Monday.
The apex court agreed to hear Chouhan�s plea on Tuesday in a throwback to its intervention during political crisis in States including in Karnataka and Maharashtra in the last couple of years when it favoured floor tests without any delay.
The plea contended that Governor Tandon�s direction to the Chief Minister on Saturday to seek a floor test on March 16 immediately after his address to the House was not complied with.
The plea, mentioned before the mentioning officer of the apex court for urgent hearing, said the Speaker, the Chief Minister and the Principal Secretary of the Assembly be directed to �hold the floor test in the Madhya Pradesh Legislative Assembly within 12 hours of the passing of the order by this court and as directions... issued by Governor�.
�Even coronavirus cannot save this unstable government,� Chouhan said in response to a query by a reporter on concerns about the spread of the disease being cited by the State government for the adjournment of the House. Chouhan also claimed that the BJP enjoyed majority in the House.
Chief Minister Nath for his part dashed off a 6-page letter to the Governor stating that holding of a floor test in the Assembly would have been �undemocratic and unconstitutional� since some MLAs of the Congress are being allegedly held in �captivity� by the BJP with the help of the police in the BJP-ruled Karnataka.
Speaker Prajapati adjourned the House after Legislative Affairs Minister Govind Singh brought up the issue of coronavirus scare, saying the World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared it a pandemic.
�You all know that in the wake of (Covid-19) pandemic outbreak, the ongoing Assembly sessions of Rajasthan, Kerala, Odisha, Chhattisgarh and Maharasthra have been adjourned,� he said addressing Govind Singh�s concerns soon after the Governor finished his customary address on the first day of the Budget Session within a minute and left the House.
Leader of Opposition Gopal Bhargava said the trust vote should be held on Monday itself to which Prajapati said the Opposition hasn�t held any discussions with the Speaker over the issue.
Amid the noisy scenes, Singh drew the attention of the Speaker to the coronavirus situation which, he said, has assumed alarming global proportions. The Speaker then adjourned the House till March 26. � PTI