ARUNACHAL: In an unprecedented incident, the first sitting of the three-day Winter session of the Arunachal Pradesh Legislative Assembly held at a community hall after the main gate of the Assembly building was found ‘sealed’ by Speaker Nabam Rebia, even as clashes broke out between two groups, with one opposed to the session and the other in favor of it, outside the Assembly building on Wednesday.
During the session held at the Techi Takar Community Hall near the main Assembly building in Naharlagun, an impeachment motion was moved against the Speaker by voice vote by 33-0, with 20 rebel Congress MLAs, 11 BJP MLAs and two Independents voting against him. Deputy speaker T N Thongdok did not cast his vote.
The deputy speaker was among the 14 Congress MLAs disqualified on Tuesday. The Speaker termed the action of the deputy speaker “unconstitutional, illegal and unprecedented.”
“How can they impeach the Speaker as they have already been disqualified as members of the Legislative Assembly?” Rebia asked.
He alleged that the rebel MLAs had tried to forcibly enter the Assembly and fearing a law and order situation, he did not permit functioning of the Assembly and ordered its sealing. In November, 13 rebel Congress MLAs had moved an impeachment motion against the Speaker for his alleged “dictatorial attitude”.
They alleged that he had accepted the resignation of two rebel Congress MLAs, Gabriel D Wangsu and Wanglam Sawin, which were not submitted by them to him.
16 other MLAs have submitted their impeachment notices against the Deputy Speaker for his alleged “dictatorial attitude.” The Assembly session was to have begun on January 14, but Governor JP Rajkhowa advanced it by a month for reasons not known, thereby ruffling the feathers of the ruling Congress in the State. The party accused him of working at the behest of the BJP to destabilise the Nabam Tuki government. Forty seven of the 60 MLAs in the State are from the Congress.
On Wednesday, initially, a huge crowd had gathered in front of the Assembly building to disrupt the session. Soon, another crowd arrived there in support of the session, resulting in a face-off. The groups started attacking each other with stones and sticks. The situation was later brought under control by police, who resorted to lathi-charge and blank fire. BJP State president Tai Tagak said: “We have no role in the Congress crisis in the State.” The Deputy Speaker said he had been mandated to conduct the business of the House. “Nabam Rebia is no more the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly with the Governor’s order. The Assembly was kept locked and the MLAs were not allowed to enter at orders of State government led by the Chief Minister and Nabam Rebia,” he said. “Rules and provisions were not followed accordingly,” claimed former minister Kalikho Pul, on disqualification. Pul is the leader of the dissident Congress MLAs.
The Arunachal Pradesh Cabinet said that the Deputy Speaker’s holding of the session outside the Assembly was “patently illegal and unconstitutional and part of a larger conspiracy hatched by the disqualified Congress MLAs, BJP MLAs, Central government, the Deputy Speaker and the Governor”.
“The Deputy Speaker exceeded his jurisdiction. First, he quashed the order and notification of the Speaker disqualifying 14 Congress MLAs, who had voluntary given up their membership and then unauthorisedly held the session of the Assembly outside Vidhan Sabha,” government spokesman Bamang Felix stated, after a meeting of the Cabinet.