The state of Rajasthan has been at unrest since mid July when the then Deputy Chief Minister of the state, Sachin Pilot, stood up against Chief Minister, Ashok Gehlot, and the two powers in the state stood confronting each other in the battle of power show. Considering the criticism Sachin Pilot received from Congress party leaders, his revolt is taking turns in his favour.
After leading the fight against each other, legally, Gehlot and Pilot took the matter to Rajasthan High Court, which has now been put off until the Centre is involved. Ashok Gehlot had ordered the Rajasthan Police’s Special Operation Group (SOG) to investigate Pilot and followers on the suspicion of ‘horse-trading’ of Members of Legislative Assembly (MLAs) with the objective to weaken the Congress Government in the state. Upon investigating, the SOG tracked down two MLAs from Pilot’s camp, who, the Congress claims were caught on tape making deals with the Union Minister, Gajendra Singh Shekhawat of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Sachin Pilot has cornered all the allegations made against him and his team of rebels. Pilot denied conspiring against the Congress Government in the state. He also clarified that the rebellion is not against the party but the leadership in the state.
Following the hearing that took place on Friday, July 24, both the parties were instructed to await for the decision of the court and not take any actions against one another. The opposition speaker, CP Joshi, filed a petition against the dissidents, stating that the court cannot interfere in legislative matters. Joshi was firm that the action against the dissidents should solely be decided by his office and not the court. The Apex court was not pleased and said that the ‘voice of the dissident’ cannot be silenced in a Democracy.
The disqualification notice to Pilot and his camp was sent out on the orders of the Chief Whip on the basis of their absence from the Congress Legislative Party (CLP) meeting at the CM’s residence. The Chief Whip can only function when the assembly is in session, not otherwise, the Pilot camp argued back. The Apex court, which observed the discussion on the matter through a video-conference, concluded that the matter needed ‘prolonged hearing’ as it concerned greater questions relating democracy and its survival.
“As the high court has already heard the matter after prolonged arguments and reserved the order, we are not staying the passing of the order, however, whatever order is passed, shall be ultimately subject to the outcome of this petition.” said the bench comprising Justices Arun Mishra, B R Gavai and Krishna Murari who, subsequently, fixed the matter for hearing on Monday, July 27.
Things look good for Pilot as the High Court accepts another application filed by him. Pointing out that the Tenth Schedule’s constitutional validity is challenged in the matter, the Union Government should rightly be included in the list of respondents. Pilot’s initial argument in the early version of the petition mentioned that defection cannot be processed only by missing two meetings of Congress Legislative Party (CLP). The anti-defection provisions can only be invoked if a member voluntarily gives up membership of the political party or votes contrary to the party’s direction in the assembly, according to the Constitution’s Tenth Schedule.
Joshi tried to take matters in the hands of his office but systematically failed. Sachin Pilot has been making confident moves since the revolt began. He filed a caveat before the Supreme Court in order to ensure that he and his followers are given a chance to speak by themselves and they don’t fall prey to orders passed unjustly.
Assembly Speaker CP Joshi recalled that in 1992, SC’s Constitution bench had ruled that the Assembly Speaker has the power to disqualify the Member of its assembly. “Chief whip of Congress party filed a petition before me and I issued show-cause notices to MLAs concerned. After that, the matter was taken to court.” added Joshi while speaking to ANI.
With every move on the part of Gehlot becoming an advantage to Pilot, the Gehlot-led Government expresses its desperation for a chance to prove their majority and take the lead. After the confirmation of involvement of the Centre, Gehlot headed to meet Kalraj Mishra, the Governor.
The purpose of the meeting was to request and pursue the Governor to convene the assembly, which due to being pressured by the Centre, is not in the hands of the Governor at the moment. Ashok Gehlot said, addressing the media, that his camp was willing to show the numbers and he has already written to the Governor asking for a state assembly session to be convened, however, there was no response from him.
हमने माननीय राज्यपाल महोदय को रिक्वेस्ट की है, हम चाहते हैं कि Assembly का सेशन बुलाएं। pic.twitter.com/LzTkJ18GlC
— Ashok Gehlot (@ashokgehlot51) July 24, 2020
Ashok Gehlot said that the Governor did not give a go ahead signal probably ‘due to pressure from the Centre’. “I don’t know the reason. It seems that he is under pressure,” he said. “We want an assembly session to be convened in order to discuss issues including corona and the political situation… We believe that because of certain pressures, the Governor is not giving directions to call the session.” Gehlot requested in an attempt to pursue the Governor to fulfill his duties.
राज्यपाल महोदय हमारे संवैधानिक मुखिया हैं, हमने जाकर उनसे रिक्वेस्ट की है। कहने में संकोच नहीं है कि बिना ऊपर के दबाव के वो इस फैसले को नहीं रोक सकते थे क्योंकि राज्यपाल महोदय Cabinet के फैसले में बाउंड होते हैं कि हमें किसी भी रूप में उसे मानना है और Assembly session बुलाना है। pic.twitter.com/8YJroYfad8
— Ashok Gehlot (@ashokgehlot51) July 24, 2020
“Governor is our constitutional head. I don’t hesitate to say that he couldn’t have stopped it (Assembly Session) without some pressure from the top. Why did he not decide yesterday? We’ve requested him again to make a decision soon. People are waiting. I am sure that the governor will not come under any pressure, he will make a decision. We hope the Assembly session begins soon. So we are sitting here in protest. After he gives us a letter, we will decide the further course of action.” said Rajasthan CM, Ashok Gehlot, outside Raj Bhavan.
While Gehlot presents the decision of the Governor to be a pressurised act, Kalraj Mishra denied the allegation stating that calling an assembly during this critical pandemic is not ideal.
“We are going to the Governor to request him to not come under pressure (and call Assembly session)… varna fir ho sakta hai ki pure pradesh ki janta agar Raj Bhawan ko gherne ke liye aagai, to hamari zimmedari nahi hogi.” said Gehlot before heading to meet the Governor on Friday, and later claimed that the ‘gherao’ (encircling) around Raj Bhavan was a mere political tactic.
Ashok Gehlot states that the protest will continue until the Governor calls for a session.
While the ruling party in the state is blaming the opposition for trying to topple it’s government, Rajasthan BJP President, Satish Poonia, has said that Congress party is blaming BJP for the situation, wherein, they, themselves, are responsible for creating it. BJP followers call it true because the bridgegap between Gehlot and Pilot is the result of unfair distribution of power and position, which was engineered by Congress party itself.
Meanwhile, Congress party’s former President, Rahul Gandhi, attacked PM Narendra Modi led central government, on Friday through his tweet, of hand-in-glove attempt to disbalance his party’s government in Rajasthan, and sought convening of Assembly session from Governor of the state. “The country is ruled by constitution and law. Governments are formed and run by the majority of the people. The conspiracy to demolish the Rajasthan government is clear. This is an insult to the eight crore people of Rajasthan. The Governor should call a session of the Legislative Assembly so that the truth comes before the country.”, read the tweet by Rahul Gandhi.
देश में संविधान और क़ानून का शासन है।
सरकारें जनता के बहुमत से बनती व चलती हैं।
राजस्थान सरकार गिराने का भाजपाई षड्यंत्र साफ़ है। ये राजस्थान के आठ करोड़ लोगों का अपमान है।
राज्यपाल महोदय को विधान सभा सत्र बुलाना चाहिए ताकि सच्चाई देश के सामने आए।#ArrogantBJP
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) July 24, 2020