Under attack from Rajasthan Congress for not acceding to its request to call an Assembly session to prove its majority, Governor Kalraj Mishra on Friday maintained that no one is above constitutional decorum and added that he will only act according to the rules.
The Governor claimed that the Ashok Gehlot government has proposed “neither a justification nor any agenda” to call the session on short notice.
Stressing that there should not be any kind of pressure politics, he said that on Thursday night, the state government issued a letter for calling the Assembly session on a very short notice.
“The Raj Bhavan consulted legal experts,” he said, adding that a letter was sent by the Raj Bhavan on Friday to the state Parliamentary Affairs Department, for a response to some points including that the date from which the assembly session is to be convened was not mentioned in the Cabinet Note and no approval had been given by the cabinet.
“Neither justification nor any agenda has been proposed to call the session on short notice. In the normal process, 21 days notice is required to call a session,” it added.
Instructing the state government to ensure that the independence and independent movement of all MLAs, the letter, noting that the case of disqualification of some MLAs is also under consideration in the High Court and the Supreme Court, asked the state government to take this into cognisance.
It also asked the state government to share the details of how the session will be called in view of the rapid spread of coronavirus in the state.
Earlier on Friday, after the Rajasthan High Court made Centre a party in the case against Congress in the petition filed by team Pilot against the disqualification notice served by the Speaker and ordered status quo to be maintained, Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot 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.
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.
Speaking to reporters, Gehlot said that he had a telephonic conversation with Governor Kalraj Mishra Thursday evening wherein, he requested him to take a decision on convening an Assembly session.
“We requested him to call a session last evening and we waited all night, but there was no response. It is beyond comprehension what kind of forces would compel him to delay such a simple process,” the chief minister said.
Since the Governor had not responded to the plea, Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot said he and the Congress MLAs supporting him will directly make a collective request at Raj Bhawan.
“We are going to the Governor to request him to not come under pressure. The people of Rajasthan are with us. If the masses surround the Raj Bhawan, we will not be responsible,” he told reporters ahead of the MLAs’ five-hour sit-in outside the Governor’s residence.
Congress MLAs on Friday staged a dharna at the Raj Bhavan, urging Mishra to give approval for calling a special Assembly session.
Following this, Rajasthan Governor Kalraj Mishra asked Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot to clarify his position on the law and order situation after the gherao of the Raj Bhavan by Congress MLAs.
In a stern letter, Mishra posed several questions on Friday’s incidents to Gehlot and asked him to clarify his stance.
In the letter in Hindi addressed to Gehlot, Mishra said, “If you and your Home Ministry can’t protect the Governor, then what about the law and order in the state? What agency should be contacted for Governor’s security? I’ve never heard such statement from any CM. Is this not the beginning of a wrong trend where MLAs protest at Raj Bhawan?”
The statement that the Governor was referring to was issued by Gehlot where he said that if Raj Bhavan is gheraoed by the people of the state, it is not his responsibility.
“Before I could discuss the matter with experts regarding the Assembly session, you have publicly said that if Raj Bhawan is ‘gheraoed’, it is not your responsibility,” Mishra said.
Mishra added that in his long political career, he has not heard any Chief Minister say such a thing. “I saw your statement on electronic media today in which you tried to give a political colour to the constitutional obligations and constitutional decisions, on account of which I am sad and hurt,” Mishra said.
“Once I receive a letter from you, I will have to take to take a decision keeping all constitutional obligations in mind and this right has been given to me by the Constitution,” Mishra lashed out.
The political tide in Rajasthan has not been quite favourable for the Gehlot camp as the high court, in a huge setback for the Congress government, accepted team Pilot’s eleventh-hour request to add Centre as a party in the disqualification case.
Friday’s order came as the Supreme Court on Thursday rejected the Rajasthan Speaker’s petition to interfere in the High Court’s order to defer anti-defection proceedings against former Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot and 18 rebel Congress MLAs, saying that “the voice of dissent in a democracy cannot be suppressed”.
The top court concluded its hearing saying that the Rajasthan High Court can pass orders on rebel MLAs plea against disqualification notice from the Speaker.
After Sachin Pilot and the rebel MLAs gave the second CLP meeting a miss on July 14, the Congress announced the removal of Pilot as the Deputy Chief Minister as well as the Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) chief.
Two other ministers, Vishvender Singh and Ramesh Meena, who joined him in his revolt, were also dropped from the Ashok Gehlot cabinet.
On the same evening, 19 dissident Congress leaders including Sachin Pilot were served notices by assembly Speaker CP Joshi for indulging in “anti-party activities”.
The crisis exploded following the night of July 10 when the Rajasthan Police sent a notice to Pilot, asking him to record his statement over an alleged attempt to bring down the government.
On July 12, the sulking leader declared open rebellion against his party by claiming that he has the support of 30 MLAs.