Ending the deadlock, Rajasthan Governor Kalraj Mishra late Wednesday finally approved the revised proposal sent by the state government requesting to convene a special Assembly session on August 14.
A notification said the Governor has “approved the proposal to start the fifth session of the Rajasthan Legislative Assembly from August 14, sent by the Cabinet”.
The Governor, in his order, directed that all measures should be adopted during the conduct of the assembly session, as per the guidelines issued to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Earlier on Wednesday, Governor Kalraj Mishra had snubbed Ashok Gehlot’s demand for Assembly session from Friday and returned the third proposal send by the ruling Congress government in Rajasthan.
According to a report in NDTV, Mishra questioned the government’s third proposal which insisted the convening of the Assembly session on July 31. He said that there appeared to be no convincing reason to call a session without a 21-day notice in view of the coronavirus outbreak, unless the government wanted to hold a trust vote.
Shortly after the rejection of the proposal, Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot met the Governor for the fourth time to end the deadlock between the two.
“I am going to meet him to know what he wants,” the CM was quoted as saying by PTI before meeting Mishra.
Gehlot also called the rejection a ‘love letter’.
Addressing a function at the Congress state unit office in Jaipur before meeting the Governor, Gehlot said a “prem patra” or love letter had come from the Rajasthan Governor.
This was the second time he has referred to the Governor’s rejection as a ‘love letter’. Earlier, he had said these words while addressing Congress MLAs camping at the Fairmont Hotel.
Going soft on the dissidents, he said that those who had “cheated” the Congress in the past can return to the party fold and apologise to party chief Sonia Gandhi.
“For the first time in 70 years, a Governor has raised such questions. Can you understand where the country is going?” he commented.
The Chief Minister was speaking at a PCC function where new party unit chief Govind Singh Dotasara assumed the charge.
Meanwhile, the new date of August 14 for convening Assembly session is exactly 21 days from when the first request was made, ie. July 24.
On Tuesday afternoon, the Congress government had sent a fresh proposal to the Governor seeking to summon a special Assembly session from Friday.
The proposal reportedly included the state government’s reply on the three conditions to be met to convene the session.
The development comes after Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot chaired a cabinet meeting in Jaipur day after Governor Mishra sent back his request, with queries, for an assembly session.
Prior to that, the Governor had twice returned the state government’s proposal to convene a special Assembly session.
Last Friday, Governor Kalraj Mishra had refused to accede to Ashok Gehlot’s call for an Assembly session to prove his government’s majority, and sought a reply on six points from the state government, including about the reason to call a session of the Assembly for a floor test.
Following this, the Rajasthan chief minister, in a late-night meeting on Friday, discussed the six points raised by the Governor for calling an assembly session.
Then, Gehlot submitted a fresh proposal on Sunday and listed Coronavirus and economy as the agenda for the special session.
However, the Raj Bhawan on Monday, returned the files related to the convening of the Assembly session to the Parliamentary Affairs Department of the state and sought some additional details from the Congress government on how it plans to conduct the session amidst the pandemic.
Following this, Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot told reporters that he spoke to Prime Minister Narendra Modi informing him about the Governor’s “behaviour”.
Shortly after, the Governor issued a statement allowing the state government to convene a special Assembly session but with conditions.
In a statement, the Rajasthan Raj Bhawan said that “Not convening the Assembly was never the intention” and raised three questions for the Ashok Gehlot government on its proposal for convening the Assembly session.
The Governor questioned if the Chief Minister wanted to bring a trust vote or not.
Further stating that it would be difficult to call all the MLAs for the Assembly session in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic, the Governor asked, “Can you consider giving a 21-day notice over the convening of Assembly session?”
The Rajasthan Governor finally questioned how social distancing would be maintained during the Assembly session.
The Ashok Gehlot-led Congress government, which is facing a political crisis after rebellion by 19 dissident Congress MLAs, including rebel party leader Sachin Pilot, wants to hold the assembly session to prove its majority.
Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot had last week alleged that the Governor was not giving directions to call the Assembly session because he was “under pressure from the top” to stall any test of strength.
Currently, the Congress has a narrow lead over the opposition and is only one past the majority mark of 101 in the 200-member Rajasthan assembly. Team Pilot claims the support of 30 MLAs; however, there is evidence of only 19. The BJP has 72. Including smaller parties and independent members, the opposition has 97 at the moment.
Gehlot has claimed a “conspiracy” by the BJP to topple his government, but asserted that the party stood strong in the face of a political onslaught.