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Will go to Rashtrapati Bhavan, protest outside PM’s residence if needed: Ashok Gehlot amid Rajasthan crisis

Meanwhile, CM Gehlot is likely to meet Governor Kalraj Mishra today to submit a fresh proposal for convening Assembly session

SNS | New Delhi |

Amidst the political turmoil in Rajasthan, Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, during the Congress Legislative Party (CLP) meeting at Fairmont Hotel in Jaipur, today, said that his party will go to the Rashtrapati Bhavan to meet the President, if needed and even go to the extent of staging a protest outside the Prime Minister’s residence.

Gehlot also said that the Congress will not let the BJP “succeed in their conspiracy”.

Meanwhile, CM Gehlot is likely to meet Governor Kalraj Mishra at 4 pm to submit a fresh proposal for convening Assembly session. He had sought time to meet the Governor to give a fresh proposal for convening Assembly session

The chief minister had earlier in the day called a meeting of his council of ministers at his residence to rework on a proposal to the Governor over calling a session of the state assembly.

After Governor Kalraj Mishra refused to accede to Ashok Gehlot’s call for an Assembly session to prove his government’s majority, the Rajasthan chief minister, in a late-night meeting on Friday, discussed the six points raised by the Governor for calling an Assembly session.

The meeting was held at the chief minister’s residence which lasted for nearly two and a half hours.

The Governor had earlier 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.

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.

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.

After Congress MLAs loyal to Gehlot on Friday held a five-hour sit-in at the Raj Bhawan to press for an assembly session, the governor assured that he will go by the constitutional provisions on summoning an assembly session.

Ahead of the dharna, 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.

“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.

However, Governor Kalraj Mishra resonded to the allegations maintaining 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.

Meanwhile, Congress workers staged demonstrations at several places in Rajasthan against the BJP, accusing it of “conspiring” to topple the Ashok Gehlot government.

The Congress had on Friday given the call for demonstrations in all district headquarters against the “conspiracy to murder democracy” and to press the Governor for convening an Assembly session.

Earlier on Friday, in a huge setback for the Congress government, 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.

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.