The manner in which Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik won a vote of confidence in the State Assembly today is a disgrace to democracy.
Governor M.C.Bhandare had asked Patnaik to seek a confidence vote in view of the collapse of the Biju Janata Dal’s alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party and the latter’s withdrawal of support to the government.
Patnaik was expected to win the confidence vote as small parties like the Communist Party of India and the CPI (Marxist) had extended support to him and some BJP members had quit the party to vote with the government.
Moving the motion of confidence in the 147-member house, Patnaik said he had the support of more than 74 members.
Congress members questioned the propriety of the Assembly meeting after the announcement of the election schedule.
Speaker Kishore Mohanty put the motion to vote without a debate. He declared the motion carried on a voice vote. There was no division.
It is preposterous to settle the crucial issue of majority support on a voice vote. How on earth could the presiding officer could the presiding officer determine that the number of people who shouted “Aye” was 74, and not 73?
The Congress party must share the blame for the absurd Assembly proceedings. By raising a specious constitutional issue it had provided the Speaker and the government the opportunity to evade a debate on the motion as well as a proper vote.
Fresh Assembly elections are due in Orissa along with the Lok Sabha elections. The dubious voice vote has given Patnaik the opportunity to remain in office through the election period.