Speaker should vote for government: ChatterjeeOctober 5th, 2008 - 10:30 pm ICT by IANS
New Delhi, Oct 5 (IANS) Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee Sunday said he would have been legally obliged to vote in favour of the Manmohan Singh government in case of a tie during the July 22 trust vote.Chatterjee, who was expelled from the Communist Party of India-Marxist after he refused to step down as speaker, spoke about his predicament in his first media interview after the trust vote. The interview was carried by the Lok Sabha TV channel run by the lower house of parliament.
Maintaining that, legally speaking, “casting a vote is not a matter of choice for the speaker” in the event of a tie, Chatterjee said: “So far what the law and the tradition of parliamentary procedures in various democracies prescribe, the speaker should not bring about any change by his vote.”
Responding to question by interviewer Paranjoy Guha Thakurta on how he would have voted in case of a tie, Chatterjee said: “The speaker has to vote for the status quo.”
Even in the case of voting on a bill to amend a law, the speaker has to vote against the amendment, he pointed out.
He also favoured appointing a different authority other than the speaker or the Rajya Sabha chairperson, possibly the Election Commission, to decide on the issue of disqualification of an MP under the provisions of the anti-defection law.
Chatterjee made the suggestion in response to a question on the petitions pending before him seeking disqualification of 26 members of various parties for voting against party directives during the July 22 trust motion.
The trust vote had been sought after the Left parties withdrew their support to the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government due to their differences over the nuclear deal with the US.
Chatterjee favoured an amendment to the constitution to provide for the Election Commission or any other independent authority to decide on the questions relating to the disqualification of MPs under anti-defection law.
Talking about the CPI-M’s “historical blunder” of stifling the chances of party veteran Jyoti Basu becoming prime minister in May 1996, Chatterjee said: “Yes, I was very keen that Jyoti Babu should have become prime minister.”
Denying that he was ever in the race for the post of India’s president during last year’s election, he refuted speculation that the Left parties’ ‘no’ to his candidature had left him a bitter man against his own party.