The deadlock over the convening of the Rajasthan Assembly session ended on Wednesday after Governor Kalraj Mishra accepted the Ashok Gehlot-led state government’s latest proposal to summon a session from August 14, PTI reported. This was the fourth proposal sent by the chief minister in the past week amid the political crisis.
The latest proposal was drafted after an hour-long Cabinet meeting at Gehlot’s residence on Wednesday evening, according to India Today.
“Neither the governor nor the government wants confrontation,” state minister Pratap Singh Khachariya told PTI before the governor accepted the proposal. “The Cabinet has passed a revised proposal for forwarding to the governor. We hope that the Governor will accept the recommendation this time and the deadlock will end.” The minister, however, did not elaborate on the contents of the revised proposal.
The party had argued that the latest proposal abides by the governor’s suggestion to call a regular session at a 21-day notice, unidentified officials told the news agency. The Cabinet is counting the days from July 23, when it made its first proposal.
It also cited some ministerial work as the agenda to call the session, according to The Indian Express.
Earlier in the day, Gehlot met Mishra after he returned his proposal on Assembly session the third time to call an Assembly session from July 31. The revised proposal was sent after the state Cabinet deliberated on the concerns that Mishra had raised when he returned the state government’s second proposal on Monday.
Mishra had on Monday said that he would summon a state Assembly session only if the government gave a 21-day notice to the legislators. 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 files, the governor asked if Gehlot wanted a floor test or confidence motion, as he had not mentioned it in the reasons given for reconvening the state Assembly. Gehlot had submitted the second proposal to Mishra on Sunday, in which he said the session should be convened to discuss bills, including one related to the coronavirus pandemic.
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.
Gehlot had first asked Mishra to convene a session of the state Assembly last week. 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. In turn, the chief minister alleged the Governor was under pressure “from above” – a reference to the Bharatiya Janata Party-led central government.
The Congress government in Rajasthan has been on the brink of collapse ever since former Deputy Chief Minister Sachin 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.
On July 24, Pilot and 18 other dissident MLAs got partial relief from the High Court, which ordered Joshi to maintain the 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, Joshi withdrew his plea in the top court asking for intervention, minutes before the hearing was supposed to begin.
The Congress has 107 MLAs in the Rajasthan Assembly – including the six Bahujan Samaj Party turncoats – following Pilot’s revolt. The majority mark in the 200-member House is 101.