The Rajasthan assembly will be convened on August 14, a notice from Governor Kalraj Mishra's office said Wedensday after days of back-and-forth on the matter between him and Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot. The notice 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 had questioned the government's third proposal this morning, which insisted on the July 31 date it mentioned earlier.
Mr Mishra 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. In that case, a short session with all the safety measures, including social distancing could be held, he said.
Sources said the Chief Minister -- who has repeatedly insisted that he has the numbers -- decided to ask for a session exactly 21 days from when the first request was made.
The move was seen as a climbdown from Mr Gehlot's earlier stance that the Governor has to abide by the cabinet's decision on this matter. The Governor, the Chief Minister had claimed, was working under BJP pressure and was going beyond his jurisdiction to block the cabinet proposals.
Mr Gehlot, who claims he has the support of 102 MLAs -- one above the majority mark if his rebelling former deputy Sachin Pilot and his 18 MLAs cannot be disqualified -- has not mentioned trust vote in any of his three proposals.
"If the Governor wants us to have a floor test he should direct us, we are in a majority. Why should we ask for a floor test," said Mahesh Joshi, Chief Whip, Rajasthan.
Disqualification of Mr Pilot and the MLAs supporting him will bring down the majority in the assembly, giving Mr Gehlot some wiggle room. Winning a trust vote will make his government secure for the next six months, but unless they are disqualified, the rebels will be allowed to vote. Even if they are disqualified later, their vote will count and the government is likely to collapse, giving the BJP an opportunity to move in.
After the Governor's snub on Wednesday morning, Speaker CP Joshi had gone to the Supreme Court, challenging the Rajasthan High Court's interim order on disqualification of the rebels. The order, which insisted on maintaining the status quo, was helping the rebels, the Speaker said in the petition.
Mr Gehlot has been insisting on starting the assembly session to test the waters, sources said. Leaders in his camp said several MLAs supporting the Chief Minister are being held hostage by the rebel camp and once they are in Jaipur for the assembly session, Mr Gehlot's numbers will rise. The Team Pilot has denied the accusations.