Panaji, May 12 : The Congress on Friday moved the Panaji Bench of the Bombay High Court to seek disqualification of Health Minister Vishwajeet Rane under the anti-defection law.
The petition was filed by Leader of Opposition Chandrakant Kavlekar of the Congress under Article 226 of the Constitution that empowers the court to issue orders on legislative matters.
Rane was elected legislator on a Congress ticket in the February 4 assembly elections but later switched sides to the ruling BJP. He said the petition is a “joke”.
The petition said Vishwajeet Rane and the then Pro-Tem Speaker Sidharth Kunkolienkar had flouted legislative procedure on March 16, the day the present coalition government took the floor test. It said Rane was allowed to resign from assembly membership in defiance of a whip issued for the opposition benches.
“Perhaps Vishwajeet Rane is under the impression that by resigning from the assembly, he is free to contest again and return to the same house. We have argued in our petition that it is not possible — he is guilty of defection. He was elected for five years and now he will not even be eligible to re-contest,” Congress spokesperson Ramakant Khalap said.
Rane, among the 17 Congress legislators, had defied the party whip and resigned from the Congress as well as from membership of the assembly on March 16.
Rane later criticised the Congress leadership and formally joined the Bharatiya Janata Party a few weeks later. He was later sworn-in as Health Minister on April 12.
“This petition is a joke and it reflects the bankruptcy of the state and central leadership of the Congress,” Rane said.