Chhattisgarh govt appoints 15 parliamentary secretaries, BJP calls it unconstit...

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The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has slammed the Bhupesh Baghel-led Congress government in Chhattisgarh for appointing 15 parliamentary secretaries. The Opposition party said the move is unconstitutional and an attempt to pacify dissent.

Baghel on Tuesday administered the oath to these parliamentary secretaries, all member of legislative assembly (MLAs), in the chief minister’s office.

All the MLAs, except two - Chintmani Maharaj and Parasnath Rajwade - are first-time MLAs in the state assembly and will now be allotted different departments under cabinet ministers.

Senior leader of BJP and former minister Ajay Chandrakar told Hindustan Times said that the appointment is completely unconstitutional.

“Congress has always opposed the appointment of parliamentary secretaries when they were in the Opposition and now they doing the same. It also reflected that there is rift and dissent among the MLAs of the state, just like Rajasthan,” said Chandrakar.

The BJP leader also said that they should tell the public about the directions of court about the powers which were curtailed by the court. “They should also tell whether any writ is pending before the high court over the appointment of parliamentary secretaries,” said Chandrakar.

The BJP also alleged that the appointed parliamentary secretaries which will add additional burden to state exchequer at a time when it is dealing with the Covid-19 crisis.

It is worth mentioning that in 2017, current cabinet minister Mohammad Akbar had challenged the appointment of 11 parliamentary secretaries by the previous BJP government in the high court. Akbar claimed that these appointments were illegal and unconstitutional.

In April 2018, the court had dismissed the petitions but maintained its interim order, passed in 2017, that parliamentary secretaries will not be entitled to power and facilities at par with ministers.

Recently, speaking about the appointments of parliamentary secretaries by his government, Akbar said that the Congress government will appoint MLAs as parliamentary secretaries but they will not be entitled to facilities at par with the cabinet ministers.

“In our government, parliamentary secretaries will not function as ministers but will work as their assistants without holding the office of profit. We will strictly comply with the directives of the HC,” he added.

The BJP’s legal unit slammed the Chhattisgarh government saying it is a mockery of democracy and law.

“The appointment of parliamentary secretaries has been declared unconstitutional by Himachal Pradesh government and the case is pending before the apex court of India. Same thing happened with the Delhi government and the case is lying before the Election Commission of India. So far as Chhattisgarh government is concerned, Congress government led by Bhupesh government is going to appoint 15 ministers against 12 ministers which is unconstitutional and the mockery of democracy,” Naresh Gupta, in-charge of BJP’s legal unit of Chhattisgarh, had said ahead of the appointment.

Responding to the allegations, agriculture minister Ravindra Chaubey said that the BJP government had first appointed parliamentary secretaries.

“First the BJP should answer whey they had appointed parliamentary secretaries when they were power,” he said while talking to reporters.

“Parliamentary secretaries give opportunity to the government to serve the larger part of the state by dividing the portfolios between MLAs which will be extension to the ministers and will lessen the burden of the departments and will also give an opportunity of learning the political and administrative skills to the younger MLAs under the guidance of senior ministers. The appointment of parliamentary secretary in our state is absolutely as per the dictum given by Chhattisgarh high court,” said Peeyush Bhatia, government advocate at the high court of Chhattisgarh and state president, youth bar association of India.

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