JAIPUR: Rajasthan witnessed high political drama on Friday when CM

Ashok Gehlot

reached governor

Kalraj Mishra

’s official residence with more than 100 legislators, including independents. He met Mishra and insisted on convening the assembly session, which seems intended to prove his strength and force the hand of the rebels who are seeking protection from disqualification.

The CM and MLAs stayed put for more than five hours from around 2.30pm to 7.35pm, and raised slogans for an assembly session as recommended by the state cabinet. Gehlot termed the protest a“Gandhian satyagraha”. Earlier, Gehlot said, “If the state’s people now gherao Raj Bhavan (for not convening the session), we will not be responsible.”

The governor responded by expressing anguish over Gehlot’s remarks. “My only request to you is that if you and your home department cannot protect even the gover nor then what is your opinion about the law and order situation in the state? With that, also tell me which agency should be contacted for the governor’s security? In my long political career, I never heard such a statement from any CM,” he wrote to Gehlot.

The decision to convene the assembly is seen to be the prerogative of the government and usually the governor has few objections, if any. But the political subtext to the events has made it a political potboiler. If the assembly meets, it will likely force Pilot and the rebel MLAs to surface as violation of the party whip in the House will imperil their membership.

If they do attend the House, it might impact their case in the Supreme Court, which is hearing the Speaker’s challenge to the

Rajasthan high court

’s directions with regard to disqualification notices. Gehlot and the MLAs, as well as senior Congress members, left for the hotel where they are camping only after the governor assured them that the assembly could be convened once the cabinet replied to queries raised by Raj Bhavan. Congress member Randeep Singh Surjewala said, “CM Gehlot has called a cabinet meeting at 9.30 pm to reply to the governor’s short note of queries by tonight or tomorrow, so that the session can be called at the earliest.”

The move to call the assembly is the next act in the political drama that saw the SC order that any high court decision on disqualification will be stayed until it has heard the matter and assessed issues such as whether dissidence can be quelled by threat of disqualification proceedings.

This was seen as a setback to Gehlot and Congress and led to the decision to seek convening of the assembly. It is felt that whether or not the dissidents retain their membership will be a key determinant in a trial of strength. Before driving to Raj Bhavan with the MLAs in four buses, Gehlot said, “I do not understand the mystery behind not convening the session. The governor is a constitutional head and he could not have stopped the assembly session from taking place without some pressure from the top.” Gehlot said the governor was duty bound to call a session once the government requested as per a cabinet decision.

Reacting to Gehlot’s statements, Shekhawat tweeted, “Can a responsible CM say this to the governor of a state? Gehlotji seems to forget that the chair he sits on is for governance and not for goondagardi.”

Leader of opposition Gulab Chand Kataria said the central government should hand over Raj Bhavan’s security to the CRPF. Clarifying his statement, Gehlot later said, “To say ‘people will gherao Raj Bhavan’ is political language that even the late

Bhairon Singh Shekhawat

used as CM when he paraded MLAs before the governor (in 1996).

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