Rajasthan Governor Kalraj Mishra on Monday said that he would summon a state Assembly session if the government gives a 21-day notice to the legislators, PTI reported.
This was among three suggestions that the governor made while returning the files related to convening an Assembly session to the state’s Parliamentary Affairs department, seeking additional information from the Congress government.
Among his comments on the file, the governor asked if Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot wanted a floor test or confidence motion as he had not mentioned it in the reasons given for reconvening the state Assembly, the Hindustan Times reported. Gehlot had submitted a fresh proposal to Mishra on Sunday, in which he said the session should be convened to discuss bills, including one related to the coronavirus pandemic.
“Do you want to bring a confidence motion?” the governor asked Gehlot. “As it is not mentioned in the proposal but in public you are making statements that you want to bring a confidence motion.”
Mishra made two other suggestions – the live broadcasting of the floor test if it takes place, and necessary precautions in seating arrangements in the Vidhan Sabha during the coronavirus outbreak.
The Ashok Gehlot-led government hopes to pass a floor test amid an intra-party crisis, which has followed after Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot was sacked.
Chief Minister Gehlot had requested Mishra to convene a session of the state Assembly earlier too. However, the governor had turned down the request, as it mentioned neither a date for the commencement of the session nor any reasons for it.
Gehlot wanted Mishra to start the session from July 31.
The chief minister had met the governor on Friday. Prior to the meeting, he told reporters that Mishra was under pressure “from above”, an indirect reference to the Bharatiya Janata Party-led central government. Mishra denied the allegations, but Congress workers began a dharna outside Raj Bhavan, his residence, that day. The protest went on for several hours.
Also on Monday, Congress leaders Salman Khurshid, Ashwani Kumar and Kapil Sibal wrote to the governor. “Any deviation from constitutional position in current circumstances would be an avoidable negation of your office and create a constitutional crisis,” the letter read according to News18.
Congress leaders and workers staged protests in Delhi and Uttar Pradesh. Uttar Pradesh Congress President Ajay Kumar Lallu and All India Congress Committee General Secretary PL Punia were detained outside the Raj Bhavan in Lucknow, ANI reported.
The Rajasthan crisis
The Congress government in Rajasthan has been on the brink of collapse ever since Pilot rebelled against 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 filings before the Rajasthan High Court, 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 make them liable for disqualification on the ground of defection. They added that elected representatives of the people cannot be removed from his post on the whims and fancies of their party’s leadership.
After the rebel MLAs approached the High Court, the Speaker was initially asked to defer action. Speaker Joshi then moved the Supreme Court which refused to intervene and asked the High Court to go ahead. On July 24, Pilot and 18 other dissident MLAs got partial relief from the High Court, which ordered maintenance of status quo on the disqualification notices. The court order put the disqualification procedure on hold till the Supreme Court passed its verdict on the Speaker’s plea. However, Speaker Joshi withdrew his plea in the top court on Monday minutes before the hearing was supposed to begin.
CP Joshi withdrew his petition in the Supreme Court on Monday, in a hearing that lasted three minutes.
The Congress has 107 MLAs in the Rajasthan Assembly – including six Bahujan Samaj Party turncoats – following Pilot’s revolt. The majority mark in the 200-member House is 101. On Sunday, the Bahujan Samaj Party issued a whip to its six MLAs to vote against the Congress in the event of a floor test.
On Monday afternoon, the Rajasthan High Court began a hearing on Bharatiya Janata Party MP Madan Dilawar’s petition against the entry of six Bahujan Samaj Party MLAs into the Congress.