Guv clears assembly session, but sets 3 conditions for govt

Governor Kalraj Mishra asked the Rajasthan government on Monday to initiate proceedings to convene an assembly session, even as he asked it for a fresh proposal addressing his three recommendations — a 21-day notice for the sitting of the House; live-streaming of floor test, if it happens; and ensuring social distancing in view of the Covid-19 outbreak.

“If the government wants to win a vote of confidence, then it can become a reasonable ground for calling the assembly session on short notice. But it has to be said,” a Raj Bhavan statement said on Monday.

The statement came in the backdrop of persistent demand by the ruling Congress to convene the House. Confident of its numbers in the assembly, the party is pushing for a floor test in the assembly in the wake of a power tussle between Gehlot and former deputy chief minister Sachin Pilot.

The Congress accuses the governor of delaying the session due to pressure from the BJP-led central government — a charge that Mishra denies.

Till late on Monday, the government did not officially respond to the governor’s concerns. Senior Congress leaders in Rajasthan, who held a discussion on the latest developments, said the three conditions could give more time to the state’s opposition BJP to try and get more MLAs on its side.

On July 23, the Congress sent its first proposal to the governor for convening the session. A day later, Mishra asked the government to reply to his six-point questionnaire that raised issues such as why the session be should called at such a short notice and what preparations will be done in the wake of Covid-19.

The Congress government sent a revised proposal the same day, reminding Mishra that he has to follow the aid and advice of the council of minister, but did not mention a trust vote.

Monday’s Raj Bhavan statement said in such an extraordinary situation, it was not right to convene an urgent session and put the lives of 1,200 people— 1,000 assembly employees and 200 MLAs — in danger, a reference to the coronavirus pandemic.

The governor said he had no problem if the session was called after a notice of 21 days, according to the statement. He also said discussions on important social and political issues could be done through online platforms.

For conducting the trust vote in case one is moved, Mishra suggested that the proceedings be video-recorded and that the voting held though “yes” and “no” buttons.

Congress leaders said a 21-day notice isn’t necessary and pointed out that in 2014, the third session of the 14th Rajasthan assembly was summoned on September 7 and the proceedings of the House began on September 15.

“There have been umpteen instances when the assembly was called with a much shorter notice,” said Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi.

A senior Congress functionary, who did not want to be named, ruled out the party going to court against the governor’s directions. “The governor would love to see us going to the court because then the issue of calling a session would get delayed…,” he said.

BJP spokesperson Mukesh Pareek said the governor had taken the right constitutional position. “In this Congress versus Congress fight, the governor and the BJP are being dragged unnecessarily,” he said.

(with inputs from Aurangzeb Naqshbandi in Delhi)

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