Rajasthan crisis: Gehlot govt insists on July 31 session, won't mention trust vote in agenda

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Jaipur/New Delhi: The Rajasthan government on Tuesday sent a revised proposal for an assembly session to Governor Kalraj Mishra, sticking to its demand that the sitting should begin on July 31 and refusing to mention if it would seek a trust vote.

Sources said the Cabinet took the stand after discussing the suggestions made by Mishra when he returned a proposal from the state government to summon a Vidhan Sabha session.

Also on Tuesday, BJP legislator Madan Dilawar approached the high court again against the merger of six Bahujan Samaj Party MLAs into the Congress after the 2018 assembly polls.

BSP too moved the court seeking to become a party in the case, as the tussle for power in Rajasthan between the Ashok Gehlot and Sachin Pilot camps continued.

Dissident Congress MLA Bhanwarlal Sharma filed a petition asking the same court to quash an FIR lodged over audio clips in which he is allegedly heard discussing a plot to “topple” the state government.

The impasse between the Gehlot government and the Governor has been on since last week, when Congress MLAs staged a five-hour sit-in at the Raj Bhawan demanding the session.

Amid nationwide protests by Congress workers over the issue, Governor Mishra had on Monday said he had no intention of not calling a session.

But he sought a redrafted proposal from the Congress government that includes three points – a 21-day notice for calling a session, live broadcast of the proceedings if there is a trust vote, and social distancing.

In addition, the Governor wrote that a session can be called at a short notice if the government says in its new proposal that it planned to seek a vote of confidence.

But sources said the Congress government has not mentioned in its new proposal whether it is seeking a vote of confidence in the assembly session, which it is still insisting should begin on July 31, the date it gave in its last recommendation.

Asked about the agenda of the proposed session, Transport Minister Pratap Singh Khachariyawas said it is for the Business Advisory Committee of the assembly to decide.

On social distancing in the Vidhan Sabha to fight coronavirus, the minister said it is for the Speaker to make the arrangements.

"We want permission to call the assembly session, which is our right. We don't want any confrontation with the Governor and we hope that he will give his approval this time,” Khachariyawas told reporters after the cabinet meeting.

“He has no right to be raising queries. Yet we are giving a reply," the minister said.

In his note Monday, Governor Mishra had said media statements by the state government indicated that it wanted to prove its majority through a vote of confidence, but this has not been mentioned in its proposal.

"If the government wants to win a vote of confidence, then it can become a reasonable ground for calling the assembly session on a short notice,” a press note had said, quoting the Governor.

This is the third time that the Gehlot government sent a proposal to the Governor for an assembly session, amid the crisis the Congress faces in the state after a rebellion by Sachin Pilot and 18 other dissident MLAs.

The Congress has alleged that the BJP is behind the “conspiracy” to topple its government in Rajasthan and the Governor is acting “under pressure”.

BJP MLA Madan Dilawar on Tuesday filed two writ petitions challenging the Speaker's decision to reject his complaint against the merger of six BSP MLAs with the Congress.

On Monday, his first petition on the issue was dismissed by the high court, “having become infructuous” as Speaker C P Joshi passed an order on his complaint on July 24.

The BSP appealed to be included in the case with its leader Mayawati saying the party had decided to “teach a lesson” to the Congress over the “unconstitutional” merger.

She said, if needed, the BSP will go to the Supreme Court over the issue.

Congress general secretary Avinash Pande accused Kalraj Mishra of being biased as his party launched an online campaign with a #GetWellSoonGovernor hashtag.

"It is my appeal that the Governor may recover from the infection of biased thinking so that he can give his consent to convene an immediate assembly session to protect the Constitution and democracy," he tweeted in Hindi.

The Congress has 107 MLAs in the 200-member assembly. But after the rebellion by 19 legislators, it is in a precarious situation even with the support of independents and allies. The BJP has 72 MLAs. PTI

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