Rajasthan political crisis | Governor’s nod for Assembly session, but with riders

Mishra calls for 21-day notice and mention of floor test in agenda

Updated - July 28, 2020 01:05 am IST

Published - July 27, 2020 10:32 pm IST - JAIPUr

Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot taking part in a protest against the BJP-led Central government in Jaipur on Monday.

Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot taking part in a protest against the BJP-led Central government in Jaipur on Monday.

After an impasse lasting four days, Rajasthan Governor Kalraj Mishra on Monday allowed the State Cabinet’s demand for holding an Assembly session, while insisting that the government give a “clear notice” of 21 days for calling the House and provide a written undertaking that the agenda would include seeking a confidence vote to prove its majority.

“The government’s statements to the media have made it clear that it wants to move a confidence motion in the Assembly, but the Cabinet advice has not made any mention [of this],” Mr. Mishra said in a statement released by Raj Bhavan. This could be a basis for summoning the House on short notice, he said.

Fresh queries

Though he returned the Cabinet note seeking the Assembly sitting from July 31 with fresh queries for the second time, the Governor insisted that Raj Bhavan had “no intention” to not call the session and it only wanted to act as per the procedure laid down in the rules and regulations framed under the Constitution.

“There are clear provisions in Article 174. My advice falls within its ambit,” Mr Mishra said.

The file on the Cabinet note was sent to the Parliamentary Affairs Department with an advice to address three specific aspects of calling the House and giving a response to Raj Bhavan — provision of 21 days’ notice to enable all MLAs to attend the proceedings, video-recording and live telecast of the floor test, and precautions against the spread of COVID-19 during the sitting.

Also read: Supreme Court allows Speaker to withdraw plea against High Court order

Congress sources said the State Cabinet would meet later in the evening to discuss the issue. Opinion in the party was split on the next move. One section felt the government should insist on a short session and stick to the July 31 date, while mentioning a confidence vote in the agenda. The government could decide its strategy after the Governor responds.

Another view was that the government should accept all the points raised by the Governor, comply with his directions and not rush to the court for a floor test. This could help deal with the turmoil created by former Deputy CM Sachin Pilot’s rebellion.

Mr. Gehlot said at a meeting of the Congress Legislature Party (CLP) on Monday that he had spoken to Prime Minister Narendra Modi about the deadlock between the Governor and the State government and apprised him of Mr. Mishra's conduct. “I also talked about the letter I wrote to him last week on the horse-trading attempts being made in Rajasthan,” he said.

Also read: Ashok Gehlot sends Governor Kalraj Mishra revised note for Assembly session

The Governor had earlier raised objections to the previous recommendation on July 24, asking about the need for calling the session when the government already had the majority, about the free movement of MLAs, and the disqualification matter then pending in the Supreme Court.

In his previous note to the government, Mr. Mishra had said no one was above Constitutional dignity and no “pressure politics” should be resorted to while making a recommendation.

The Governor’s observations came in the wake of a five-hour-long sit-in staged by the Congress MLAs, led by Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, on the lawns of Raj Bhavan on July 24, pressing for a Assembly session.

While the Congress MLAs organised a prayer meeting at the luxury hotel where MLAs supporting the government have been staying since the crisis began, the CLP sent a memorandum to President Ram Nath Kovind, seeking his intervention in the matter.

The CLP memorandum said the “Governors of several States” were violating constitutional provisions at the instance of the ruling party at the Centre without regard to the dignity of the gubernatorial office.

AICC general secretary Avinash Pande, who is in Jaipur as a central observer, told reporters outside the hotel that it was surprising that the Governor was “putting obstacles” in front of the government as it tried to find solutions to people’s issues and provide relief during the pandemic through debates in the Assembly.

While affirming that the Ashok Gehlot government enjoyed full majority, Mr. Pande said several dissident MLAs said to be in the Pilot camp were in touch with the Congress. “They have struggled to strengthen the party in Rajasthan. Their support will be very important for us,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Rajasthan High Court on Monday dismissed a petition filed by BJP MLA Madan Dilawar challenging the merger of six Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) MLAs with the Congress party after the 2018 Assembly election. The court said the plea about the Assembly Speaker not deciding on his petition for disqualification of the MLAs had become infructuous.

The BSP had on Sunday issued a whip to the six MLAs to vote against the Gehlot government in any proceedings of the House. A signed communication by BSP general secretary Satish Chandra Mishra said all the six legislators were elected on the BSP’s symbol issued by its national president Mayawati and were bound by a party whip.

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