India ENews, Wednesday, May 31st, 2006
Ranchi - Jharkhand Governor Syed Sibte Razi is likely to follow in the footsteps of President A.P.J Abdul Kalam by returning an office-of-profit bill to the state government.
To protect legislators from disqualification, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government in the state had passed the Jharkhand Prevention of Disqualification Bill 2006 in March this year.
The bill was sent to the governor for approval in March itself but he neither returned the bill nor gave his consent.
‘In fact the governor was waiting for the bill to be passed in parliament. Since the president has now returned the bill, the governor can also follow suit and return the bill,’ said a source in Raj Bhavan.
Sibte Razi courted controversy a year ago when he invited Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) chief Shibu Soren to form a government in the state despite the NDA enjoying a majority.
The NDA leaders have criticised the governor for not giving his consent to the bill.
A legislator of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which leads the NDA, told IANS: ‘Razi is behaving like a Congress leader. He does not want to miss any chance to pull down the Arjun Munda government. He should have either approved the bill or returned it for reconsideration.’
NDA leaders smell foul play in the ‘delaying tactics’ of Razi.
At least 19 legislators were embroiled in the office-of-profit controversy in Jharkhand and their membership of the house was to be decided by the Election Commission.
The NDA government enjoys wafer thin majority in the 82-member house. It has the support of 42 legislators, excluding the speaker. Even if two NDA legislators are disqualified, the Arjun Munda government will be reduced to a minority, paving the way for the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) to come to power.
The election commission has cleared one legislator of the BJP, but 18 legislators’ petitions are still pending with the commission.
Of the 18 legislators, 12 are from the NDA while the rest are from the opposition UPA. The NDA legislators include Chief Minister Munda, Karia Munda and others.
The commission had sought an explanation from the NDA legislators by May 29 on the issue. With the expiry of the deadline, they have sought six weeks’ time to reply.
The NDA legislators allege that the governor is helping the UPA by delaying the bill. If the bill is approved, the legislators can be protected by the act.