A day after leading a 'dharna' at the Raj Bhawan in Jaipur, Rajasthan Chief Minister on Saturday said Congress MLAs will meet the President and hold a sit-in outside the Prime Minister's home, if needed, to settle the crisis in the state.
Gehlot's remarks came on a day when Congress workers held demonstrations across the state, protesting against the "BJP conspiracy" to topple the state government and demanding a session of the state assembly.
Gehlot, who chaired a Congress Legislature Party (CLP) meeting on Saturday afternoon, said his government would approach President Ram Nath Kovind if needed. The CLP meeting took place at the Fairmont Hotel in Jaipur where MLAs loyal to him have been lodged since a tussle for power broke out between Gehlot and his deputy Sachin Pilot.
"We will go to Rashtrapati Bhawan to meet the President, if needed. Also, if required, we will stage a protest outside the Prime Minister's residence," said Gehlot a day after Congress MLAs protested at Jaipur's Raj Bhavan against Rajasthan Governor Kalraj Mishra's stand on not calling an assembly session.
The political situation in the state is unlikely to come to an end anytime soon, with Gehlot on Saturday saying the MLAs in his camp might have to stay at the Fairmont Hotel for at least 21 days more.
At the CLP meeting, Gehlot indicated the plan was to have a floor test to prove that the majority of Congress MLAs and allies are with him in the tussle for power. "He said the government has the majority and wants to go to the assembly floor," said a statement issued by Congress chief whip Mahesh Joshi after the meeting.
According to the party's statement, Gehlot told the CLP that it was a fight to save democracy, adding the strategy for the future will be planned after taking feedback from the MLAs.
"Wherever we need to go, be it Rashtrapati Bhavan or outside the Pradhan Mantri's residence, we aren't going to stop," the statement quoted Gehlot as saying.
Apparently referring to the Raj Bhawan dharna, AICC spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said the unity shown on Friday was "amazing" and it will be remembered how 102 people together defeated those trying to crush the Constitution.
Gehlot chairs another Cabinet meeting
The Rajasthan Cabinet met again on Saturday to revise a proposal to be sent to Mishra requesting him to convene a session of the Assembly. Gehlot had chaired a meeting of the Cabinet on Friday night to discuss the points raised by the governor on its earlier proposal.
The Cabinet has now asked that the session be held on July 31, after its earlier demand that it should begin on Monday.
Gehlot was expected to meet the Governor and submit the note to him, but the meeting was yet to take place till late on Saturday.
In the evening, a 15-member BJP delegation met the Governor, expressing its opposition to the Congress dharna at the Raj Bhawan and the remarks Gehlot made the previous day. The chief minister had accused the Governor of not calling a session as he was under "pressure from above", indirectly blaming the BJP government at the Centre. He had also said that "we will not be responsible" if the people of the state gherao the Raj Bhawan.
The Congress government is pushing for a session of the Assembly so that Gehlot can prove his majority on the floor of the House after the Rajasthan High Court on Friday ordered that status quo should be maintained on the disqualification notices sent out by the Speaker to Pilot and 18 other MLAs.
Mishra on Friday asked the Gehlot government why it wanted to call an Assembly session to secure a vote of confidence if it already had the majority. The governor posed the query in a six-point questionnaire entailing a note sent by the Raj Bhawan to the state Parliament Affairs Department, the Raj Bhawan said in a statement.
In his note to the state government, Mishra emphasised that "no one is above the Constitutional dignity and no pressure politics should be resorted to". He also pointed out that neither had any date for convening the session been mentioned in the Cabinet note, annexed with the government's request, nor had the Cabinet given its approval to it.
The government has neither given any reason for calling the session on such a short notice nor proposed any agenda for it, said the governor, pointing out that a 21-day notice is mandatory for calling an Assembly session.
In the statement, the Raj Bhawan added that Mishra had also asked the government "to ensure the independence and freedom of movement of all members of the legislative assembly".
On Friday, Gehlot said a letter was forwarded to the governor on Thursday night for calling the session, but he had not taken any decision on it.