Governor to Gehlot: If trust vote is on agenda, convene Assembly

Our Bureau/ Agencies New Delhi | Updated on July 27, 2020 Published on July 27, 2020

Rajasthan Governor Kalraj Mishra

Ending the impasse and clearing the decks for a trust vote, Rajasthan Governor Kalraj Mishra suggested on Monday that an Assembly session can be called at a short notice if the State Government says the agenda is to hold a floor test to prove its majority. The observation figures in a note sent by Mishra while returning — for a second time -- Ashok Gehlot Cabinet’s recommendation to call a session.

The governor asked the State government to draft a fresh proposal, addressing three points. His note said a session can be called if the government agrees to give 21-day notice. But the notice can be shorter if the agenda is to hold a floor test, which the Congress has indicated that it wants but has not specified in its proposal.

Mishra’s second point is that the State government should undertake to broadcast live the proceedings of the floor test, if it takes place. It should also ensure precautions during the proposed Vidhan Sabha sitting against the spread of coronavirus, his note said.

Meanwhile, the Congress urged President Ram Nath Kovind to direct Governor Mishra to convene the House. Senior Congress leader and former Finance Minister P Chidambaram said on Monday that Governors appointed by the BJP since 2014 have repeatedly violated the letter and spirit of the Constitution of India.

Precedence available

Addressing reporters, he said, in the process, they have gravely impaired parliamentary democracy, its conventions and traditions.

He said there are at least three landmark judgements of the Courts 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. It is settled law that the Governor shall act on the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers. The Governor has no discretion — let me repeat, no discretion at all — in the matter. The questions that the Governor had raised to stall the request were irrelevant and beyond his authority. His 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,” he said.

Parliamentary democracy

He said the fundamental basis of a 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 a parliamentary democracy,” the senior lawyer said.

Chidambaram said the Congress is “astonished and anguished” by the attitude of the Governor. “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. We sincerely hope that the Governor of Rajasthan will obey the law — and only the law. He must remember thst 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,” he said.

BSP Whip

Meanwhile, joining the legal tussle in Rajasthan, the BSP has issued whips to its six MLAs to vote against the Congress. The six MLAs had decided to merge the BSP into the Congress last year.

In a statement, party general secretary Satish Chandra Mishra said all the MLAs have been asked to vote against the Congress in the event of a no-confidence motion or any other proceedings in the Assembly. Mishra warned that the MLAs are bound follow party’s whip failing which disqualification will be entailed.

All six MLAs, R Gudha, Lakhan Singh, Deep Chand, JS Awana, Sandeep Kumar and Wajib Ali, are now part of the Congress. Their support is crucial for the Ashok Gehlot Government.

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Published on July 27, 2020
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