Opposition Congress in Chhattisgarh today demanded disqualification of 11 MLAs of the ruling BJP for "holding" posts of parliamentary secretaries, within days of 20 Aam Aadmi Party legislators in Delhi being disqualified in an "office of profit" case.
President Ram Nath Kovind on Saturday gave his assent to a recommendation made by the Election Commission for disqualifying 20 MLAs of the Arvind Kejriwal-led party over holding offices of profit.
"The action taken in Delhi has proved that the appointment of the BJP MLAs in Chhattisgarh to the posts of parliamentary secretaries is also unconstitutional.
"Therefore, a similar action should be taken by the Election Commission of India against these MLAs here for holding offices of profit," Congress leader Mohammad Akbar told a press conference today.
Akbar said last year he had filed a petition in the Chhattisgarh High Court seeking quashing of the appointment of the MLAs as parliamentary secretaries.
He said he had then written to the poll panel on the issue in the year 2016.
"In response to my letter, in November 2016, the ECI stated that it goes into the disqualification of sitting MLAs only if a reference is made to it by the Governor of the state concerned," Akbar said.
Akbar, a former minister, said he wrote to Chhattisgarh Governor Balramji Das Tandon after the EC's response.
"However, even after over a year, the Governor did not refer the matter to the ECI for further consideration," Akbar said, alleging that the Governor was not discharging his Constitutional duty.
He also accused the Raman Singh government of violating the Chhattisgarh High Court order by not withdrawing all the facilities entitled to the parliamentary secretaries on a par with state ministers.
The high court, which is yet to pass any order on Akbar's petition, had earlier directed the state government to withdraw the power of all parliamentary secretaries.
However, Akbar alleged that the government withdrew only the financial power of discretionary fund conferred upon the parliamentary secretaries.
"The parliamentary secretaries are still enjoying perks in the form of bungalows, cars and other facilities like ministers," he alleged.
He said the BJP-led dispensation is scared that disqualification of the 11 MLAs will reduce them to a minority government.
In the 90-member House, the BJP has 49 MLAs, followed by the Congress (39), Independent (1) and BSP (1).
Asked if the Congress will approach the Governor again, Akbar said the party was not averse to do so.
"However, if no response is received from the governor, the Congress will appeal to the President to look into the matter," he said.