Minutes before his office cleared the notification to convene the Assembly session on August 14, after four representations by the Ashok Gehlot government, Rajasthan Governor Kalraj Mishra announced the decision in an interview to Liz Mathew. Denying allegations of partisanship by the ruling Congress, Mishra said that he had gone entirely by the rules. Excerpts:
Why the delay in agreeing to the state government’s call for an Assembly session?
The state cabinet was not ready to explain the reasons it wanted to convene the regular Monsoon Session at such short notice, in this period of the pandemic and also given the unusual political conditions.
But legal and constitutional experts are clear that the governor has to act on the aid and advice of the Cabinet. And that Article 163 limits any discretionary powers of the governor.
The governor is bound to act on the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers but I was not ruling out calling the session. As per provisions of Article 174, the governor is bound by the decision/recommendations made by the state cabinet. Para 150 (h) of Article 163 does not give the governor a general discretionary power to act against or without the advice of his Council of Ministers; the area of the exercise of this discretion is limited, and even in this limited area, the action cannot be arbitrary or fanciful. It must be a choice dictated by reason, actuated by good faith and tempered with caution.
I raised questions (over calling the session) because the situation is not normal. The Raj Bhavan questioned the urgency of summoning the House, asked about the arrangements regarding safety of more than 1,000 people who would be in the House, and whether the government would seek a trust vote or not.
But is it right for a governor to get into House seating arrangements?
Covid is the responsibility of the entire State machinery. As the governor, I was trying to ensure safety of the people.
Your mention of law and order issues after Gehlot talked about gheraoing the Raj Bhavan prompted talk that you might seek the state government’s dismissal using Article 356.
It was not right on the part of the Chief Minister to make proactive statements. I was pained at his statement that the state government would not be responsible if people gherao Raj Bhavan. So I asked the CM about the law and order situation in the state. Now, on the new proposal sent by the state Cabinet, I am summoning the House from 14th August.
Do you believe the CM should move a trust motion when the Assembly is convened?
The trust motion is an activity of the House. It is the decision of the Chief Minister in the present circumstances.
When the government is not making any formal mention of a trust motion, and the Opposition is not seeking one, why are you insisting on protocols for a floor test, as outlined by courts in Uttarakhand and Karnataka?
The Chief Minister is telling the media that he wants a trust vote in the Assembly but the governor is not summoning the House. This is the reason I asked the state government that if you are going in for a trust vote, you should follow the conditions laid down in various judgments by the Supreme Court.
The Congress has accused you of partisanship, of acting under pressure from the BJP, which wants more time in the hope that more Congress MLAs would rebel.
There is no partisanship. I am advising the state government as per the provisions of the Legislative Assembly rules and Articles 174 and 163 of the Constitution.
In 1995, while you were the Uttar Pradesh BJP chief, you had protested against the governor over his actions. Now, you are facing angry protests from the Congress. Are both the Kalraj Mishras in the right?
Mulayam Singh Yadav was the CM of the state then. Some criminals had surrounded Mayawati at a guest house in Lucknow. They enjoyed State patronage. I requested the Chief Secretary, the DGP to do something, but nothing happened. After I met the Governor, he ordered that the safety of Mayawati be ensured. The two situations are altogether different. (Following what came to be known as the guest house incident, the BSP chief had pulled support to the Mulayam-led Samajwadi Party government, paving the way for a BSP-BJP coalition government.)
The BJP has long accused Congress governments of misusing governors. How does it feel to be in the dock now?
There is no misuse of power in my capacity as Governor of Rajasthan. I am taking every decision in the true letter and spirit of the Constitution.
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