Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot on Friday met Governor Kalraj Mishra after the High Court ordered a status quo on the Assembly Speaker’s disqualification notices issued to rebel Congress leader Sachin Pilot and 18 other dissident MLAs, ANI reported. Speaker CP Joshi cannot take any action against them till the next hearing in the case.
The MLAs supporting Gehlot shouted slogans outside Raj Bhawan, urging the governor to call an Assembly session immediately.
“We want Assembly session to be convened from Monday in order to discuss issues including coronavirus and the political situation,” Gehlot said before meeting Mishra. “We believe that because of certain pressures, governor is not giving directions to call the session.”
The chief minister added that he will request the governor to fulfill his constitutional duties without any pressure as he has failed take a decision even after the party gave him a letter with the formal request. “If the governor does not call the Assembly session and the people from the entire state lay siege to the Raj Bhavan, we will not be responsible,” he said.
Gehlot went to the governor’s house with Congress MLAs in a show of strength, according to NDTV. Buses arrived at the Fairmont Hotel in Jaipur, where the MLAs have been staying since the last two weeks amid the political crisis in the state.
On Thursday, Gehlot had said that the Assembly session would be called soon after meeting the governor. He also expressed confidence that his government will prove its majority.
Court accepts Sachin Pilot application
Earlier in the day, the Rajasthan High Court also accepted an application by Pilot and other rebel MLAs to make the Centre a party in their writ petition challenging the Assembly Speaker’s disqualification notices issued to them. The legislators asked the court to include the Union government as a party to the case as the validity of the 10th Schedule of the Constitution has been challenged.
On Thursday, the Supreme Court refused to intervene in the matter and asked the High Court to announce its verdict on the petition of rebel MLAs against their disqualification. The top court rejected Speaker’s petition contending that the disqualification process was part of the Assembly proceedings and the Rajasthan High Court could not have interfered in it by asking him to postpone action against the rebel MLAs.
What’s happened so far
The Congress government in Rajasthan has been on the brink of collapse after Pilot rebelled against Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and proceeded with a few MLAs to Delhi earlier this month. Pilot was sacked as the Rajasthan deputy chief minister and as the Congress’ state unit chief on July 14. The next day, Assembly Speaker CP Joshi sent disqualification notices to Pilot and 18 other legislators.
The notices were served after the MLAs defied a whip to attend two Congress Legislature Party meetings to resolve the political crisis in the state. However, the MLAs said that a party whip applies only when the Assembly is in session. In their petition, the legislators sought to quash the notices, arguing that they had neither given up their membership of the House nor did their failure to attend two Congress meetings makes them liable for disqualification on the ground of defection. It added that an elected representative of the people cannot be removed from his post on the whims and fancies of his party’s leadership.
After the rebel MLAs approached the High Court, the Speaker was asked to defer action by three days. On Tuesday, the Rajasthan High Court asked the Speaker to not take a decision on the disqualification notices till the final verdict.
The Congress has accused the BJP of political manoeuvring to topple its government in the state.
Before the political crisis erupted, the Congress had the backing of 125 MLAs in the 200-member Rajasthan Assembly, including 107 of its own legislators. As many as 13 Independents and five MLAs from other parties support it. The majority mark in the Rajasthan Assembly is 101. The BJP has 72 legislators and has the support of three Rashtriya Loktantrik Party MLAs.