Rajasthan crisis: Gehlot meets Governor, Congress MLAs stage dharna
After a setback at Rajasthan High Court earlier today, Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot returned to the battleground, with all his claws intact, asking Governor Kalraj Mishra to convene a special session of the Assembly and reject the pressure from "above." In what is nothing short of a dramatic turn, his loyalists also staged a dharna at Raj Bhavan demanding a floor test.
Background: A quick recap of what's happening in Rajasthan
To recall, Rajasthan plunged into a political crisis after Gehlot's deputy Sachin Pilot revolted last week, claiming that the senior leader has lost the majority in the 200-member Assembly. Subsequently, Pilot and 18 of his aides were sent disqualification notices by Speaker CP Joshi. His team took the legal route and got reprieve twice — at Supreme Court yesterday and at HC, today.
While Pilot took sigh of relief, Gehlot swung to action
Just when Pilot's camp, and opposition BJP, saw HC's order of maintaining status quo as a win, Gehlot got busy with his next steps. He gave a pep-talk to his team members at Fairmont Jaipur, where they have been sequestered since the crisis started. Then, he led his MLAs to Raj Bhavan in four buses to show he still has the majority.
Addressing press, Gehlot said Governor was being pressurized
In the afternoon, Gehlot addressed media, using the platform to clarify his intentions. The Congress leader revealed that he told Governor Mishra he was up for a trust vote yesterday itself and was expecting orders for the same. But the directive never arrived. Claiming that Governor Mishra was being pressurized, he added, "Never seen such a naked display (of power) until now."
Won't be our responsibility if citizens gherao Raj Bhavan: Gehlot
Issuing a threat of sorts, Gehlot told Governor Mishra that it won't be "our responsibility if people of Rajasthan gherao Raj Bhawan." Soon, his loyal MLAs, whose count goes beyond 100, staged a sit-in protest at Raj Bhavan lawns, demanding an Assembly session. The chants of "Rajyapal mahodya House bulao" filled the air as mask-wearing legislators sat on the ground while maintaining social distancing.
"Rajyapal mahodya House bulao"
"Rajyapal mahodya House bulao"— Hamza Khan (@Hamzwa) July 24, 2020
Congress MLA demand Rajasthan Governor @KalrajMishra to call an Assembly session of Rajasthan Assembly.@IndianExpress#RajasthanPoliticalCrisis #Rajasthan #RajasthanPolitics https://t.co/Q1blT8s5XX pic.twitter.com/Bfo7Wz2ouw
After sloganeering, Governor Mishra met Gehlot, session likely soon
The uproar forced Governor Mishra to meet Gehlot. As he came out of the meeting, Gehlot's supporters raised jubilant slogans. Earlier, Governor Mishra had said he is neither agreeing to nor denying a session and noted that the matter was being heard by the Supreme Court. Addressing the press, Gehlot said the protest will continue till the Assembly session is approved.
Gehlot is certain Governor Mishra won't be "pressurized"
"I'm sure that 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," Gehlot said.
Meanwhile, BJP asked Gehlot if he can "force" Governor
The showdown evoked reactions from BJP, with leaders saying that Gehlot was bullying Governor Mishra. Rajasthan BJP Chief Satish Poonia said some issues are subject to a judicial process. "Are you threatening to surround the Raj Bhavan to save the chair? Can you force the governor to call a session?" he tweeted. BJP also wants the MLAs to be "removed" from Raj Bhavan.