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Rajasthan political crisis | Governor gives nod to Assembly session from August 14

Rajasthan Speaker C.P. Joshi greets Governor Kalraj Mishra during a meeting at the Raj Bhawan in Jaipur on July 29, 2020. Photo: Twitter/@RajBhavanJaipur

Rajasthan Speaker C.P. Joshi greets Governor Kalraj Mishra during a meeting at the Raj Bhawan in Jaipur on July 29, 2020. Photo: Twitter/@RajBhavanJaipur

Ending the impasse with the Congress government, Rajasthan Governor Kalraj Mishra on Wednesday approved a revised proposal of the Cabinet to convene a session of the Assembly from August 14.

Mr. Mishra orally instructed that all precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 infection should be taken during the sitting of the House. The government had sent the proposal to the Raj Bhavan for the fourth time on Wednesday evening.

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Earlier in the day, amid a deepening political crisis, Mr. Mishra had spurned the revised proposal for convening a session of the Assembly and returned for the third time the Cabinet’s advice to summon the House from July 31. 

The Governor asked for “concrete reasons” to call the session on short notice.

Soon after receiving the missive from the Raj Bhavan, Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot had called for a Cabinet meeting to deliberate on the future course of action, including sending yet another reply to the Governor. Mr. Gehlot also went to the Raj Bhavan to meet Mr. Mishra for the second time in recent days, apparently to clarify the government’s stance.

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According to Congress sources, a revised proposal was sent to the Governor, with the recommendation to convene the Assembly session on August 14. Sources said the new date met the 21-day notice requirement being insisted upon by the Governor as the first proposal was made on July 23.

In its proposals sent earlier to the Raj Bhavan, the government had refrained from stating that a confidence vote would be sought during the session. 

The Governor had told the ruling party more than once that only a written undertaking on the trust vote as an agenda of the session could form a basis for calling the House on a short notice.

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Mr. Mishra had said in his missive on Wednesday that it would be appropriate for the government to convene a regular sitting — like the monsoon session — on a 21-day notice. “If the government wants to call the session on a short notice, it should explain the urgency as well as the reasons for convening the sitting in the present extraordinary situation and adverse circumstances,” he had said, in an apparent reference to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Before meeting the Governor, Mr. Gehlot said at a function at the Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) headquarters here that his government would survive a floor test, if and when it was carried out in the Assembly. “Whether the Governor seeks a notice of 21 days or 31 days to call the session, we will be victorious,” he affirmed.

However, Mr. Mishra regretted that the Cabinet had repeatedly told the Raj Bhavan in its replies that the Governor was bound by its advice and had no right to know the reasons for its decisions. “The Cabinet has not responded to my query about a reasonable basis for calling the session urgently. On the other hand, I have received a memorandum from 17 MLAs, including the Leader of Opposition, on the need to ensure free movements and presence of all legislators,” he said.

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While Congress leaders have accused him of acting “under pressure” from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government at the Centre, Mr. Mishra said his decision in the matter was “dictated by reason, actuated by good faith and tempered by caution”. He referred to the Supreme Court’s judgement of 2016 in the  Nabam Rebia  case in this regard.

The Ashok Gehlot government is keen on holding the Assembly session as early as possible for proving its majority on the floor of the House. If the now sacked deputy CM Sachin Pilot and 18 other dissident MLAs violate the Congress party’s whip to cast the vote, the Speaker could initiate disqualification proceedings against them.

In his previous missive to the government, the Governor had suggested a 21-day notice period to convene the House, sought clarity on the session’s agenda and advised a live telecast and video recording of the floor test, if it was held, besides asking about precautions against the spread of COVID-19 during the sitting.

The function held at the PCC headquarters marked formal assumption of office by newly appointed Pradesh Congress president Govind Singh Dotasra, who has replaced Mr. Pilot. Addressing the gathering, Mr. Gehlot reiterated his charge that the BJP had hatched a conspiracy to topple the State government and asked Congress workers not to be worried about the ongoing crisis as the top leadership of the party was with them.

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After using the pandemic as one of the reasons for not convening the Assembly session, the Governor had on Wednesday cancelled the customary “At Home” programme to be held at Raj Bhavan on Independence Day. Mr. Mishra said there were 3,381 active cases in the State on July 1, which had breached the 10,000 mark on July 28, warranting serious efforts to check the spread of the viral infection.

Meanwhile, the hearing in the Rajasthan High Court on a petition of BJP MLA Mandan Dilawar challenging the Assembly Speaker’s decision to reject his complaint over six Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) MLAs joining the Congress remained inconclusive and was adjourned to Thursday. The BSP has also moved a separate writ petition challenging the merger. 

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Printable version | May 23, 2022 7:06:39 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/rajasthan-political-crisis-governor-returns-assembly-session-proposal-again-says-his-concerns-not-addressed/article32219533.ece