Following “open war’’ in the BJP on the issue of protocol, the State Government has decided to come up with fresh ‘Warrant of Precedence’ soon as a four-member Cabinet Sub Committee (CSC) has already submitted its report and wanted the Cabinet to take final call soon.
However, the new ‘protocol system’ of Jammu and Kashmir, which is completely different from many States as well as the one being followed by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), has caused ripples with some of the senior functionaries of the BJP knocking doors of the PMO, Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and Union Parliamentary Affairs Ministry saying the fresh ‘Warrant of Precedence’ prepared by the State Government was “in violation of the Central guidelines’’.
Official sources told the Excelsior that the CSC after studying the ‘Warrant of Precedence’ of the Centre and various State Governments, has decided to revise “existing protocol system’’ in Jammu and Kashmir and come out with revised guidelines in which, significantly, the Union Ministers of State, Legislative Assembly Speaker and Chairman Legislative Council have been kept below the Deputy Chief Minister in the State.
The CSC, which has submitted its recommendations to the State Government, comprised Deputy Chief Minister Dr Nirmal Singh, Industries and Commerce Minister Chander Prakash Ganga (both BJP), Law and Rural Development Minister Abdul Haq Khan and Horticulture Minister Basharat Bukhari (both PDP).
“New ‘Warrant of Precedence’, if implemented, would be ‘totally different’ from some of the States,’’ sources said.
The protocol being followed by the Centre has kept Chief Justice of India and Speaker of the Lok Sabha at par followed by the Union Cabinet Ministers. However, in State’s upcoming protocol, the Deputy Chief Minister figured above the Chief Justice of India while the Speaker has been kept below the CJI.
The Central protocol stated that Ministers of State of the Union and any other Minister in the Ministry of Defence or other matters figured above the Deputy Chief Ministers of the States.
Some of the BJP leaders were, however, of the view that when they have staked claim for the post of the Deputy Chief Minister while running Government in coalition with the PDP (which has the post of the Chief Minister), they need to place him (the Deputy CM) next to the Chief Minister in protocol for equal share in the Government. They cited this as one of the reasons for new ‘Warrant of Precedence’
However, some BJP leaders attributed the upcoming protocol system, which was yet to be implemented, as result of “internal fight’’ of the BJP, which was visible this Tuesday when Speaker didn’t attend District Development Board (DDB) meeting, chaired by Deputy Chief Minister Dr Nirmal Singh on the ground that his name was intentionally kept below Dr Singh at a JDA function at Bahu Fort. The JDA falls in the Ministry of Dr Singh.
According to sources, some of the senior functionaries have knocked the doors of the PMO, MHA and Union Parliamentary Affairs Ministry urging them to stop new ‘Warrant of Precedence’ being enforced in the State on the ground that it was “completely different’’ from Centre and many States and would create problem when the Union Ministers visit Jammu and Kashmir.
State sources were, however, of the view that new protocol drafted by Jammu and Kashmir was prevalent in Punjab and Kerala and was being implemented successfully there.
Surprisingly, the new protocol has mentioned two separate systems for the Legislative Assembly Speaker and the Legislative Council Chairman in and outside the Houses.
It proposed that the Speaker would be supreme inside the Legislative Assembly.
“If a Speaker convenes a meeting in the Central Hall of Legislature, the Deputy Chief Minister will have to sit by him i.e. the Speaker would preside over the meeting. Similarly, if the Chairman Legislative Council calls a meeting, he would be the boss in the Central Hall of Legislature and would preside over,’’ sources said and added that if the Speaker or the Chairman had to attend a function outside the two Houses, they will be below in the protocol from the Deputy Chief Minister but above the Cabinet Ministers.
They said the new ‘Warrant of Precedence’ prepared by the Cabinet Sub Committee has also placed Union Ministers of State below the Deputy Chief Minister. However, the Union Cabinet Ministers will be above the Deputy Chief Minister.
The ‘Warrant of Precedence’ has kept the Governor at top followed by the Chief Minister, the Deputy Chief Minister and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Next in the line are the Legislative Assembly Speaker and the Chairman, the Cabinet Ministers, the Deputy Speaker, the Deputy Chairman, Ministers of State, MLCs and MLAs.
A Union Cabinet Minister visiting Jammu and Kashmir has been placed between the Chief Minister and the Deputy Chief Minister. However, the Union Minister of State has been kept below the Deputy Chief Minister, sources pointed out.
In some other States, the Union Ministers of States, the Speaker Assembly and the Chairman Council (where the Legislative Council exists), have been placed above the Deputy Chief Minister and the State Cabinet Ministers.