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Showdown in Aruchal, outcry in Delhi

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  17 Dec 2015 12:00 AM GMT

* 20 out of 47 Congress MLAs team up with BJP, Independents

* Tuki government orders Assembly shutdown

* Rival Congress factions clash outside Assembly, police use tear gas

* 33 rebel MLAs meet in community hall, 'impeach' Speaker

* Speaker questions parallel session, rights of 14 'disqualified' MLAs

* Governor JP Rajkhowa turning Raj Bhawan into BJP office: Tuki loyalists

Our Bureau

Itagar/ Guwahati, Dec 16: Aruchal Pradesh appeared to be headed for President's Rule as the political showdown in the frontier State turned ugly on Wednesday when 33 MLAs --- 20 dissident Congress members along with 11 BJP and two Independent members --- in the 60-member Assembly passed a resolution for impeachment of Speaker bam Rebia.

The session, held under the chairmanship of Deputy Speaker T Norbu Thongdok, was convened at the Techi Takkar Community Hall in harlagun, after the district administration, on advice of the State government, sealed the Assembly Secretariat complex "apprehending law and order problem".

Moving the impeachment motion, Opposition leader (BJP) Tamiyo Taga said that the party's members along with two independent MLAs have served the impeachment motion notice against the Speaker on November 19 to the Assembly secretary.

"The Speaker has failed to perform as a neutral person," Taga alleged, adding that the Speaker accepted the resigtion of two Congress members - Gabriel D Wangsu and Wanglam Sawin - without verifying the fact as "they were forced to sign their resigtion letters under duress by Chief Minister bam Tuki".

Taga also alleged that there are cases pending against the Speaker at Itagar Women police station that he had forced his live-in partner to abort several times.

"The Speaker has appointed a large number of staff in the Assembly without following the established rules. We are demanding an impartial enquiry against him which is possible only if he is removed from the chair," the Opposition leader added.

The Deputy Speaker called Rebia to clarify his stand but he was absent. Later, Thongdok in his ruling stated that 33 members have signed in favour of the motion which was more than the required majority of the House. He latter passed the resolution declaring the seat of the Speaker as vacant.

Earlier in the day, all the 20 rebel Congress MLAs, 11 BJP members and two independents were prohibited entry into the Assembly premises as it was sealed by the magistrate.

Police had to lob tear gas shells to disperse supporters of both the Congress factions who virtually gheraoed the periphery of the Assembly secretariat. They also pelted stones in which a vehicle was damaged.

Talking to reporters, Thongdok stated that disqualification of 14 Congress MLAs including him, by the Speaker yesterday was "illegal" and "murder of democracy".

He said, "No democracy can be altered by a magistrate issuing an order on behest of the State government to seal the Assembly premises".

Dissident leader Kalikho Pul stated that the ground on which the MLAs were disqualified carry no meaning as they have not defected to any other party.

He added that no member of the House can be disqualified till the ongoing session is prorogued.

Chief Minister bam Tuki had yesterday termed the preponement of the Assembly session as "illegal" and said he along with his council of ministers and 20 Congress MLAs would not attend it.

A Tuki-led delegation met Governor JP Rajkhowa yesterday at Raj Bhavan, urging him not to pre-pone the Assembly session. At the meeting, the Governor was reportedly abused by two Congress legislators who accused him of 'turning the Raj Bhavan into a BJP office'.

Speaker bam Rebia - who happens to the Chief Minister Tuki's brother - had also in a notice yesterday declared all the notices issued by the Deputy Speaker in respect to the session, as null and void.

Rebia also disqualified 14 rebel Congress MLAs including the Deputy Speaker last night. The Speaker today questioned the constitutiol validity of the disqualified 14 Congress MLAs including Deputy Speaker T Norbu Thongdok under whom the 'illegal' Assembly session convened in a different venue and impeachment motion against him was passed.

"It is a mockery of democracy... When I have made the summons and the notice issued by Governor JP Rajkhowa as 'null and void' which was 'unconstitutiol and illegal', how can a session be convened in a different venue?" Rebia said in a press conference here.

"Even if an impeachment motion notice is served against me, I have the power to act as the Speaker till the motion is moved in the Assembly. I have disqualified 14 MLAs after proper scrutiny of the notice served by CLP leader bam Tuki on December 7 last," he disclosed.

Meanwhile, State's Home Minister Tanga Byaling has urged Union Home Minister Rajth Singh to recall Governor JP Rajkhowa immediately to protect "time-tested peace and tranquility in the State".

In his letter written to Singh yesterday, Byaling further appealed him to give necessary instructions to the Governor not to pre-pone the already scheduled Assembly Session.

Twenty one rebel Congress MLAs - of the total 47 - had been pressing party president Sonia Gandhi for a leadership change in the State. Having failed to get any response from the party high command, the rebel Congress MLAs planned a coup against Tuki, teaming up with the Opposition BJP and Independent MLAs.

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