Gehlot: Not one to keep mum.

Gehlot: Not one to keep mum.

Gehlot knocks at PM doors to resolve crisis; Governor refuses Assembly session

3 former law ministers write to Governor; Vote against Congress, BSP issues whip

Agency Report | Jaipur/New Delhi | 27 July, 2020 | 11:10 PM

The ongoing political crisis in Rajasthan seems to be now reaching the doors of the Prime Minister and the President as chief minister Ashok Gehlot reveals that he has spoken to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, apprising him of the deadlock between the Governor and the state government

Meanwhile, some MLAs have sent a memorandum to the President requesting his intervention to resolve the crisis in the state.

The memorandum informed the President of the alleged horse-trading in Rajasthan to topple the elected democratic government by the BJP.

Speaking to the MLAs staying in Fairmont hotel here, Gehlot said, “I have spoken to PM Modi and informed him about the governor’s behaviour. I have also spoken to him about the letter I sent him a week ago informing about horse-trading in the state.”

It is for the first time that the Governor has rejected the proposal of the elected government for convening a special Assembly session, Gehlot added.

In the memorandum sent to the President and drafted on behalf of Congress assembly members, it was mentioned that democratic and constitutional values are being openly flouted by the BJP which is trying to weaken democracy.

Also, there is misuse of agencies like the CBI, ED, Income-tax Department, to threaten the elected representatives which are highly condemnable.

As the stand-off between Rajasthan Governor Kalraj Mishra and the Ashok Gehlot government continues over the convening of the Assembly session, three former Union law ministers have written to Mishra on what they called the constitutional impasse and advised him to go by the government request on the matter.

The letter signed by Kapil Sibal, Salman Khurshid and Ashwani Kumar said that “the delay in convening the special session of the Rajasthan Vidhan Sabha as decided and advised by the council of ministers has resulted in an avoidable constitutional impasse.”

All three Congress leaders said that they have been at the helm of the Law Ministry in the past and “students” of the Constitution, adding that as per the established legal position the Governor is “obliged to call the Assembly session in accordance with the advice of the state Cabinet”.

They cited a case decided by the Supreme Court and said that “the position of the Governor, his role and limits, and circumscribed constitutional jurisdiction, have been elaborated by the Supreme Court by its seven-Judge bench judgment in the Shamsher Singh vs Union of India case in 1974 and more recently in the Nabam Rebia case in 2016.”

Rajasthan Governor Kalraj Mishra on Monday returned the file sent by the Gehlot government to request him to allow the convening of the special Assembly session.

It was the second time that the state government had sent a file to the Governor to get approval to its proposal for the session, quoting the COVID situation as the reason for holding a discussion.

In the file sent back to Rajasthan’s Department of Parliamentary Affairs, the Raj Bhavan office has sought more information from the government and hence nothing is yet decided on the session, officials confirmed.

Now the state government will have to provide the information sought by the Raj Bhawan and then only the process of calling the assembly session can start.

Meanwhile, Rajasthan Congress, changing the last-minute strategy of protests under ‘Save Democracy-Save Constitution’ campaign in Rajasthan, announced that the party will not be protesting outside Raj Bhawan in the state on Monday as proposed earlier, but the nationwide protest shall continue as per the earlier plan.

The Congress government in Rajasthan earlier requested the Governor to allow a special assembly session, however, the Governor did not permit for the same.

On Saturday late night, the Congress government had sent a revised note to the Governor seeking permission to call a special assembly session on July 31 to discuss coronavirus situation but not the floor test as the reason to call the session.

Meanwhile, Governor Kalraj Mishra met chief secretary Rajeev Swaroop and DGP Bhupendra Singh on Sunday in which the duo apprised him of the security measures being taken by the administration in view of protest which was planned in front of Governor’s House on Monday. He also raised his worry on a spike in COVID-19 cases and urged the officials to bring in a new strategy to tackle COVID, said a press note issued from Raj Bhawan on Sunday.
The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) through its National General Secretary, Satish Chandra Misra, issued a whip to its six MLAs elected to the Rajasthan Assembly, directing all of them to vote against the Congress in case of any ‘no-confidence motion or any other proceedings to be held during the upcoming session of the Rajasthan Assembly.

If any of them violates the order, they will face disqualification under Para 2 (l)(b) of the 10th Schedule of the Constitution of India, said the whip.

All the six MLAs have been issued separate notices wherein they have been informed that since the BSP is a recognised national party, there cannot be any merger under para (4) of the Schedule at the state level at the instance of the six MLAs unless there is a merger of the entire BSP everywhere at the national level which admittedly has not been done in the present case, and therefore they cannot claim any merger under any illegal and unconstitutional order of the Speaker which is against the Schedule as well as against several judgments of the Supreme Court, including the decision in the case of Jagjit Sing vs the state of Haryana in 2006.

It has been further stated in the notice that the six BSP MLAs are bound to follow the “whip”, failing which they would entail disqualification. The BSP has also decided to intervene in the pending petition of disqualification before the Rajasthan High Court or file a separate writ petition, said the press note issued by BSP.
Addressing a press conference, former Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram said, “I sincerely hope that honourable President of India will instruct the governor to perform his duty.”

The Governor has no “discretion” in the matter. The questions that the Governor had raised to stall the request were irrelevant and beyond his authority, Chidambaram said.

“Governor’s current stand that the law gives him a ‘discretion’ to summon the assembly or not is a complete distortion of the law declared by the Courts,” asserted Chidambaram.

The former Union Minister said governors appointed by the BJP since 2014 have repeatedly violated the letter and spirit of the Constitution of India.

“In the process, they have gravely impaired parliamentary democracy, its conventions and traditions,” said Chidambaram.

He cited three landmark judgements of the Court when the Governors concerned acted in gross violation of the Constitution, in Arunachal Pradesh (2016), Uttarakhand (2016) and Karnataka (2019).

“Despite these judgements and the statements of law, the Governor of Rajasthan has stalled and “continues to stall” a perfectly valid request of the Council of Ministers of Rajasthan to convene a session of the Legislative Assembly,” alleged Chidambaram.

“We are astonished and anguished by the attitude of the Governor of Rajasthan. We are therefore protesting today before all Raj Bhavans in the country to highlight the gravity of the issue and draw the people’s attention to the violations of the Constitution,” he said.

The Congress leader said that it is a settled law that the Governor shall act on the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers.

“The fundamental basis of parliamentary democracy is a functioning legislature. If the executive government wants the legislature to meet, it has the absolute right and authority to call a session. The Governor is only a formal instrument to sign and issue the summons to the MLAs. If a chief minister who is accused of not enjoying a majority wants to prove his majority, he is entitled to call a session at the earliest to prove his majority. No one can stand in his way. Placing any obstacle to calling the session would undermine the fundamental basis of parliamentary democracy.

“We sincerely hope that the Governor of Rajasthan will obey the law and only the law, He must remember that he has no other masters except the Constitution and the law. He must immediately grant the request of the Council of Ministers and summon a session of the legislative assembly,” Chidambaram said.

BJP state president Satish Poonia on the ‘Speak up for Democracy’ campaign of the Congress said how can a party wash away its old sins by launching this campaign when it itself dissolved elected governments 91 times by invoking Article 356 in the country. (IANS)