- Ashok Gehlot spoke to the Prime Minister for a second time
- Rajasthan Governor has rejected his request to start assembly session
- Kalraj Mishra had rejected the first call for assembly session last week
Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, repeatedly stonewalled in his attempts to restart the assembly session, has written to President Ram Nath Kovind and spoken to Prime Minister Narendra Modi about Governor Kalraj Mishra's "conduct". Mr Mishra, who rejected the government's first proposal to start assembly session, returned his second proposal this morning, suggesting a three-week postponement because of the coronavirus outbreak. Quoting a media article, Mr Gehlot said this was the first time in 70 years that such a thing has happened.
Mr Gehlot has asked the President to intervene in the situation and ensure that the assembly be started immediately, saying it was the "constitutional right" of the Chief Minister.
To reporters, he said, "Spoke to PM yesterday over Governor's conduct… The Governor has once again sent us a six-page love letter," he said.Governors, he said, are bound to approve when an elected government calls for an assembly session.
"PD Acharya has written an article in which it is said that this is the first time in 70 years when the Governor has refused to call the assembly session," Mr Gehlot added.
Mr Mishra had rejected the first call for an assembly session last week, citing six reasons that included the absence of a date and agenda for the session. The reasons listed also mentioned that the issue of rebellion of Mr Gehlot's former deputy Sachin Pilot and the MLAs supporting him was now in the courts, which led the Congress to withdraw its petition in the Supreme Court this morning.
Mr Gehlot's second proposal -- submitted on Saturday -- mentioned July 31 as the date. The agenda was discussions on the coronavirus outbreak and the economy.
This time, the Governor returned the proposal questioning whether MLAs could be given three weeks' notice because of the coronavirus pandemic. Calling the suggested date "short notice", he said, ""Can you consider giving 21 days' notice to the MLAs?"
The Governor also asked whether the Chief Minister wants to bring a trust vote. "Do you want to bring a confidence motion? As it is not mentioned in the proposal but in public you (Mr Gehlot) are making statements that you want to bring a Confidence Motion," Mr Mishra reportedly asked Mr Gehlot.
Three former law ministers -- Kapil Sibal, Salman Khurshid and Ashwani Kumar -- have written to Rajasthan Governor, asking him to stick to the rules. "A Governor is bound to act on the aid and advice of Council of Ministers in convening the assembly. Any deviation from the established constitutional position would be an avoidable negation of your oath of office and will create constitutional crisis," their letter read.
The Chief Minster, who has been claiming he has majority despite the rebellion by Mr Pilot and his MLAs, wanted to start the assembly session as soon as possible. Sources said to he wanted to bring back into the fold several of his supporters who have been held hostage by the rebels in Haryana's Gurugram.
But the Chief Minister's claim of the support of support of 102 MLAs -- one past the majority mark in the 200-member assembly – may shrink further, with Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati issuing a whip to her six MLAs to vote against the Congress when a floor test is held.
The BSP MLAs had joined the Congress last year. But yesterday, the BSP said they had been issued notices that they cannot merge their party with the Congress only in one state, since it has a national presence.
The crisis in the Rajasthan government started earlier this month as Sachin Pilot openly rebelled after longtime friction with his former boss Ashok Gehlot. The trigger was a summons for questioning in the alleged horse-trading by the BJP ahead of the Rajya Sabha elections. Mr Gehlot alleged that he had evidence of Mr Pilot's involvement in the BJP plot to topple his government.