The Deputy Leader of Opposition in the Rajasthan Assembly, Rajendra Rathore of the BJP, Thursday moved the Rajasthan High Court over the resignations of around 90 Congress MLAs which have been pending with Speaker C P Joshi since September 25.
“More than 60 days have passed. Under the leadership of the Leader of the Opposition Gulab Chand Kataria, we had submitted a memorandum to the Speaker on October 18, wherein we had requested him to take a decision on this, and accept the resignations. Subsequently, I sent three letters too. But I’m distressed, when the person sitting at the top of the Legislative body is not following the constitutional provisions…” Rathore said on Thursday.
Apparently ‘angry’ over the Congress High Command’s ‘unilateral’ decision to opt for a new chief minister – said to have been Sachin Pilot — without consulting them, around 90 MLAs, most of them loyal to incumbent CM Ashok Gehlot, had skipped the Congress Legislature Party (CLP) meet and submitted their resignation to Joshi late on September 25, which have been pending with him since.
“The MLAs submitted their resignations as per Rule 173 of the Rules of Procedure of the Rajasthan Assembly. No one forcefully took the resignations of the MLAs who are ministers, so under what capacity are they attending meetings of the Council of Ministers? Also, if the 91 MLAs have submitted resignations, does this government still have a majority?” Rathore said.
After Kataria’s letter, Rathore said he wrote letters to the Speaker on October 19, November 12 and November 21, wherein he cited at least two relevant decisions of the Supreme Court concerning the state Assemblies of Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka, and one High Court order concerning the Manipur Legislative Assembly.
Rathore emphasised that as per Article 190 of the Indian Constitution, there is no provision for withdrawing the resignation letters, and that the Speaker may reject the letters only if it is found that they were not submitted voluntarily or are not genuine.
However, Rule 173 (4) of Rules of Procedure of Rajasthan Assembly states that “a member may withdraw his letter of resignation at any time before it is accepted by the Speaker”.
“The Speaker should have taken an impartial decision and accepted the resignations but he is contributing to the plan of having Ashok Gehlot continue as CM. As the Speaker, he should rise above party politics and personal interests and carry out his Constitutional responsibilities,” Rathore said.
The PIL seeks a judicial intervention in the matter and a direction to the Speaker to take a decision on the resignations within seven working days.
As an interim prayer, they’ve asked that Rajasthan Assembly Secretary be directed to produce the entire record concerning the case, including the original copies of the resignations. It has also been prayed that the name of MLAs who have resigned should be declared in public domain and that they be restrained from entering into the Assembly.
Politically, the status quo favours CM Gehlot as the resignations act as a safeguard against any attempt by the Congress High Command to unseat him and install Pilot as the CM.