The Congress said it ended the sit-in following as assurance from Governor Kalraj Mishra that he would abide by Article 174 of the Constitution
JAIPUR| On Friday Congress MLA loyal to Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot held a five-hour sit-in at Raj Bhavan to press for an Assembly session, in a dramatic show of strength hours after the Pilot camp secured protection for now from disqualification from the House.
The Rajasthan High Court ordered that status quo should be maintained on the disqualification notices sent out by the Speaker, delivering a small victory to Sachin Pilot and 18 other Congress MLA who wanted them quashed.
This means that the dissidents will hold on to the membership of the state Assembly till there is a court ruling in the matter that is now also before the Supreme Court. But after the high court ruling, focus quickly shifted to Raj Bhavan Congress MLAs landed there from the hotel where they are holed up.
The Congress said it ended the sit-in following as assurance from Governor Kalraj Mishra that he would abide by Article 174 of the Constitution, after getting some clarifications from the CM. The provision deals with the Governor’s role in summoning a session.
After the MLAs dispersed, the Governor sent a letter to CM Gehlot, seeking clarifications on the session. The missive included a query on why the government wanted the session summoned for a vote of confidence when it claimed it had a majority. AICC spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said the queries would be taken care at a state Cabinet meeting to be called shortly.
Gehlot had earlier accused the Governor of sitting on a recommendation from the Cabinet to call the session while the Congress MLAs wanted to attend a sitting and “establish” that they were in majority. He also claimed that the Governor was facing pressure “from above” to stall the Assembly from the meeting, hinting at the involvement of the BJP government at the Centre in the tussle for power in the state. Before headling for Raj Bhavan, Gehlot said he said he had requested the Governor on Thursday to call the session on Monday, but there had been no word from Governor House.
He said if people “gherao” Raj Bhavan over the issue, the MLAs “will not be responsible”, a remark that prompted the BJP to demand that the Centre should deploy the CRPF. “It should not trust the Rajasthan Police,” Leader of Opposition Gulab Chand Kataria said.
At Raj Bhavan, Gehlot met the Governor inside while the MLAs remained on the lawns. Altogether, the CM and the other MLAs remained there for about five hours.
The Congress has 107 MLAs in the 200-member House and the BJP 72. The Congress tally includes six Bahujan Samaj Party MLAs, who merged as a group with the ruling party after the 2018 Assembly poll, lending stability to the Gehlot government.
On Friday, BJP MLA Madan Dilawar moved the high court, complaining that Speaker CP Joshi had not acted on his petition seeking the disqualification of the MLAs from the BSP. The court will take up the MLAs petition next week.
Before giving a ruling on the Pilot camp’s petition, Chief Justice Indrajit Mahanty and Justice Prakash Gupta allowed its application for including the Union government in the list of respondents.
Meanwhile, the Rajasthan Congress today said it would hold protests across district headquarters on Saturday to claim their democratic rights in the light of “murder of democracy” in the state.