Rajasthan crisis: Speaker withdraws from SC battle, Guv says may be to session demand

Rajasthan Governor Kalraj Mishra told the state government Monday that an assembly session can be called at a short notice if the agenda is a floor test, a conditional acceptance of the Congress demand as the party held protests and sought the President’s intervention.
Congress workers held protests at major state capitals, including at the Raj Bhavans, seeking an assembly session in Rajasthan.
Mishra returned to the Ashok Gehlot government its redrafted proposal on convening a session, asking it to submit another version after incorporating three suggestions. These included giving a 21-day notice for the session.
But the Governor’s note also offered the quicker alternative to Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, who is desperately trying to save his government after a rebellion by Sachin Pilot and 18 other Congress MLAs.
Even as it intensified its agitation outside, the Congress chose to pull out for now from a legal battle in the apex court.
In the Supreme Court, Rajasthan Speaker C P Joshi withdrew his petition against last week’s high court order, asking him to defer action till July 24 on the disqualification notices to Sachin Pilot and the rebel Congress MLAs.
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal told a bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra that the appeal had become infructuous after the apex court did not stay the directions passed by the high court, which then issued a fresh order asking for status quo on the notices.
BJP MLA Madan Dilawar’s petition in the Rajasthan High Court against the merger of six Bahujan Samaj Party MLAs into the Congress in Rajasthan was dismissed on Monday, providing relief to the Gehlot camp which, even by its own admission, has only a bare majority in the House.
Governor Mishra’s new three points for the next draft of an assembly session proposal are a 21-day notice; live broadcast of the floor test, if it is held; and social distancing in the assembly to avoid coronavirus.
It also said media statements by the government indicate that it wants to prove its majority through a vote of confidence, but this has not been mentioned in its proposal.
“If the government wants to win a vote of confidence, then it can become a reasonable ground for calling the assembly session on a short notice,” a press note said, quoting the Governor.
Earlier, the Rajasthan Congress Legislature Party (CLP) sent a memorandum to President Ram Nath Kovind, seeking his intervention for convening an assembly session.
Chief Minister Gehlot told the CLP meeting that he has also spoken to Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the current political situation in the state. He had written to Modi a few days back.
The memorandum to the President alleged horse-trading of MLAs in Rajasthan to topple an elected government.
The CLP, headed by Gehlot, said the government was not being allowed to call an assembly session when it wanted to discuss the coronavirus crisis and the state’s economy.
Three Congress leaders who have served as law ministers also put pressure on Mishra.
In a letter, Ashwani Kumar, Kapil Sibal and Salman Khurshid said the Governor’s office is above the compulsions of partisan politics.
“Having served as Union ministers of Law and Justice in different periods of time and as students of Constitutional law, we are of the clear view that established legal position obliges the Governor to call the assembly session in accordance with the advice of the state cabinet.
“Any deviation from established constitutional position in the present circumstances would be an avoidable negation of your oath of office and will create a constitutional crisis,” it said.
Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram alleged that BJP-appointed governors have violated the Constitution and “gravely impaired” parliamentary democracy.
The Congress has earlier alleged that the rebellion was engineered by the BJP and accused Union minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat of being involved in the “conspiracy”.
Avinash Pande, the Congress general secretary in-charge of Rajasthan, said the Congress will use all “weapons of democracy” in the fight.
The Congress has 107 MLAs in the state assembly and the BJP 72. But with 19 of the MLAs rebelling, party leaders say the government is hovering just above the half-way mark, with the support of independents and allies.
The MLAs in the Gehlot camp are holed up for several days at a hotel on the outskirts of Jaipur. Those in the rebel camp are said to be in hotels in Gurgaon.