Independent MLA Dr V Ramachandran, whose vote is crucial in the upcoming floor test in the Puducherry Legislative Assembly on February 22 (Monday), admitted to The Federal that he is being pressured from both parties.
However, Dr V Ramachandran, the independent MLA from Mahe said that he would continue to support the government, which he has been doing since its formation in the Union Territory (UT).
“I am under pressure from both the government and the Opposition for the last couple of days. Though, I haven’t written anything down, I have been vocal in supporting this government all these years. I will continue to do so. They know that I will support them. But, they need a confirmation from me again and again,” he said, adding that the V Narayanasamy government has not done anything for Mahe’s development but he still would support them.
“The pressure from the Opposition is not in the form of threats but requests. I have also friends in the other camp,” he said.
‘Morally not, but legally yes’
To the question on the voting rights of three nominated BJP MLAs, Ramachandran has said that they can vote according to the Supreme Court’s judgement in the Lakshminarayanan Vs Union of India case in 2018.
“The Court has categorically said that nominated members can vote,” he replied.
However, is there any precedence anywhere in the country for nominated members to vote? It seems no.
According to former officials, who have closely followed the Parliamentary procedures during their tenure in the House, nominated members can be treated as any other elected member.
“In Lok Sabha, the concept of nominated member does not arise. Members are nominated only to the Rajya Sabha. They have equal voting rights like any other member during procedures like passing of the Bills, etc. However, they refrain from voting during the selection of the President and Vice-President,” said the official sources.
It is to be noted that the UT’s like Puducherry are being governed by Government of Union Territories Act, 1963.
” The Act does not say that nominated members have the rights. That’s why, when the issue first came up in the Madras High Court in 2017, with regard to voting powers of nominated members, the Court has said it “abstained”. Only then the issue went for appeal in the Supreme Court,” said Puducherry government whip RKR Anantharaman.
And, clarified the matter stating that they have similar voting rights as the nominated members in the Rajya Sabha.
Talking to the media, Anantharaman pointed out that though the nominated members have been appointed by the BJP government in the Centre, they should not affiliate with the BJP inside the House. If they do, they can be disqualified under the anti-defection law, he said.
“Of the three nominated members, two lost their deposits in the election. One of them had even contested against the Speaker and failed. They are rejected by the people. How can they decide whether a government should continue or fall? Is this democracy?,” he told The Federal.
On the critical question whether nominated members have voting rights, he said that decision belongs to the discretion of the Speaker. “In the House, whatever decision the Speaker takes, it’s final. If he says that the members cannot vote, then that is the final word,” added Anantharaman.
(With inputs from Ganapathy in New Delhi)