Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and Governor Kaliraj Mishra.
Rajasthan Government crisis: Hours after Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot chaired a cabinet meet, the state government on Tuesday sent a revised proposal to governor seeking assembly session from July 31. The Cabinet discussed the points raised by Governor Kalraj Mishra and said it is sticking to its demand for holding the session from July 31. Responding to Governor’s query about safety in light of Covid, the state government said ” it is prerogative of the speaker.” Asked about the agenda of the proposed session, Transport Minister Pratap Singh Khachariyawas said it was for the Business Advisory Committee of the assembly to decide.
This is the third time Ashok Gehlot government has sent a proposal to the Governor for an assembly session, amid the crisis the Congress faces in the state after a rebellion by Sachin Pilot and 18 other dissident MLAs. The Congress has alleged that the Mishra is acting “under pressure” from the BJP government at the Centre.
Meanwhile, BSP chief Mayawati has warned the six MLAs who joined the Congress last year to vote against the Ashok Gehlot government in any no-confidence motion or other proceedings held during the Assembly session in Rajasthan or face expulsion. “BSP could have gone to the court earlier too but we were looking for a time to teach Congress party and CM Ashok Gehlot a lesson. We will not let this matter alone. We will go even to the Supreme Court. We have asked the 6 MLAs, who are elected to the Rajasthan Assembly on the symbol of BSP, to vote against Congress in any proceedings to be held during the Rajasthan Assembly Session. If they don’t do so, their party membership will be cancelled,” she said, news agency ANI reported.
Rajasthan Speaker withdraws plea in SC against HC order on rebel MLAs; state cabinet sticks to its demand for holding the session from July 31. Get latest updates here.
CM Ashok Gehlot walks out of Raj Bhavan with his supporters in Jaipur Friday.
The Governor had in the past returned an earlier recommendation by the government, asking for clarifications on six specific points. "The governor has returned the file to the state government with some queries. The matter is being examined," government sources told news agency PTI.
Earlier in the day, the Supreme Court allowed Assembly Speaker C P Joshi to withdraw its petition, challenging the High Court's refusal to initiate disqualification proceedings against former deputy chief minister Sachin Pilot and 18 rebel MLAs.
Meanwhile, three former law ministers wrote to the governor, saying the delay in holding the Assembly session has resulted in an avoidable constitutional crisis. "Having served as Union ministers of Law and Justice in different periods of time and as students of Constitutional law, we are of the clear view that established legal position obliges the Governor to call the assembly session in accordance with the advice of the state cabinet," senior Congress leaders and former law ministers Ashwani Kumar, Kapil Sibal and Salman Khurshid said.
In New Delhi, the Congress accused the Governor of acting in a partisan and “motivated” manner. The queries that Mishra had raised “reflected a sorry state of affairs of obfuscation, obstruction and dilatory tactics on flimsy, frivolous, and non-jurisdictional grounds”, Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said at a press conference.
The Gehlot government, which faces a challenge from former deputy chief minister Sachin Pilot and 18 MLAs loyal to him, wants a floor test so that it can prove its majority, and be spared of another count in the Assembly for the next six months.
A successful floor test will also allow the Congress to let its ministers and MLAs out of Jaipur’s Fairmont hotel and resort, where they have been kept for two weeks now. While seeking a session of the Assembly, the second recommendation of the cabinet did not, however, make a specific mention of a floor test.
After the Governor did not act on the cabinet’s original recommendation on Thursday, Gehlot had accused him of acting under “pressure from above”, and had led a protest of his MLAs at Raj Bhavan. The protest was called off after an “assurance” by the Governor who, however, asked for the government’s response on six points.
Mishra said the cabinet note had not mentioned the date from which the session was to be called. No reason had been given for calling the session at short notice, and no agenda had been proposed. A 21-day notice is normally required to call a session, Mishra said, and also sought details on logistics of holding the session in the middle of the pandemic. The Governor also sought clarification on the reason for calling the session if the government indeed has a majority.
Singhvi countered each of these queries.
He rejected as absurd the Governor’s reference to the fact that cases related to disqualification of some MLAs were pending in the Supreme Court and the Rajasthan High Court. “Whether the Assembly Speaker disqualifies or does not do so, cannot, per se, affect the holding of a session or a numbers test on the floor of the House. Whether the apex court or the High Court decides one way or another, it cannot affect the calling of a session or the exercise of power of Governor under Article 174, which, obviously, does not arise before either the Speaker or the two courts,” he said.