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Rajasthan: Govt, BJP face-off over fresh Assembly session

Soon after the Assembly convened at 11 am, the BJP MLAs led by Leader of Opposition Gulab Chand Kataria stormed the well and indulged in sloganeering.

The controversy first began during the 2020 political crisis, when the Congress had accused Mishra of not calling the Assembly session urgently. (File Photo)

The Rajasthan Assembly session resumed on a stormy note on Monday with the BJP attacking the government over the lumpy skin disease and for not calling a fresh session of the state Assembly.

Soon after the Assembly convened at 11 am, the BJP MLAs led by Leader of Opposition Gulab Chand Kataria stormed the well and indulged in sloganeering. Some BJP MLAs also waved placards which read ‘Gau mata karey pukaar, humein bachalo hey sarkar (mother cow pleads, please save us)’ .

The budget session, or the seventh session of the Fifteenth Legislative Assembly, was held from February 9 to March 28 this year. Usually, the session is prorogued once it ends. However, it wasn’t prorogued and the present session was called in continuation of the budget session.

Since there is a cap of 100 questions that an MLA can ask in the budget session, some of them have exhausted the limit – or are close to the same – as they had listed as many questions in the earlier session itself.

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Following the ruckus, Speaker C P Joshi permitted Kataria to speak who said that this is perhaps for the first time that those who asked 100 questions in session up to March “have been banned (from asking more questions).” He said that this effectively curtailed the “democratic rights” of the MLAs. As Congress state president Govind Singh Dotasra and cabinet minister B D Kalla shot back, it led to further protests by the BJP MLAs.

As Joshi tried to calm both sides with no result, he adjourned the House for 15 minutes. When the House reconvened, Speaker said that the matter of proroguing is “between the Governor and the government, Speaker has no role in it. You have lodged your protest, and it has come to the knowledge of the government, I request you to let the Assembly proceedings continue.”

However, BJP MLAs in the well started chanting slogans of “Loktantra ke hatyaro ka, naash ho, naash ho [Down with those who are murdering democracy]” while Joshi continued with the proceedings amid disruption; earlier, before proceedings had begun for the day, the BJP MLAs had protested in Speaker’s office for not calling a fresh session of the Assembly.

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Last year too, bypassing Governor Kalraj Mishra, the budget session – the sixth session of the current 15th Assembly – was not prorogued and the monsoon session was called as a continuation of the sixth session, five months on.

The controversy first began during the 2020 political crisis, when the Congress had accused Mishra of not calling the Assembly session urgently; following Sachin Pilot’s rebellion, the Ashok Gehlot government wanted a sitting to prove their majority in the House, which was allegedly delayed by Mishra.

Talking to journalists in the Assembly on Monday, CM Ashok Gehlot said that the previous session was continued “purposely.” Recalling the events of 2020, he said that “they compelled the Governor…the cabinet requests that an Assembly session be called, and the Governor has to call the Assembly session; so many editorials were written against the Governor, never before in history were so many articles written (against the Governor). What led to this?”

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He said that usually it is the other way round that “when a government doesn’t have a majority, the Governor asks the government to prove majority. But back then (in 2020) the MLAs had to protest” for calling a session of the Assembly, and hence, “we purposely continued the session.”

He also termed MLAs dharna as “natak (drama).”

“I would like to tell them that if you want to stage a dharna, do it in Delhi over the lumpy skin disease…it is the government of India which will provide vaccines and medicines. We have been demanding that it be declared a national disaster.”

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Meanwhile, amid disruption, Speaker Joshi informed the House that the Governor had returned two Bills, including The Haridev Joshi University of Journalism and Mass Communication, Jaipur (Amendment) Bill, 2022. The Bill enabled a professional from any branch of journalism and mass communication with a minimum of 20 years of experience in the private or public sector to be eligible for the post of Vice Chancellor.

However, Raj Bhawan returned the Bill citing University Grants Commission (UGC) regulations, saying a V-C should be a professor with 10 years of experience.

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Subsequently, four Bills were also tabled in the Assembly. As disruption continued, Speaker Joshi adjourned the House for five minutes. When the House reconvened, the BJP MLAs returned to their tables as a mark of respect for obituary references of former MP Than Singh Jatav, former Rajasthan MLAs Aadram Meghwal, Indira Mayaram who was also a minister, Prakram Singh, Bharatlal and Jai Kishan.

First published on: 20-09-2022 at 05:45:02 am
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