As unprecedented drama unfolded in Rajasthan with Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and his loyalist MLAs staging a sit-in at the Raj Bhawan on Friday demanding that Governor Kalraj Mishra convene an assembly session urgently, it appears to be a re-run of the political stalemate witnessed in Madhya Pradesh in March amid a similar crisis involving the Kamal Nath-led government.
Mishra has reportedly asked for legal opinion on whether the House can be convened during the ongoing pandemic.
Earlier on Friday, in relief for the 18 dissident Congress MLAs led by now-sacked deputy chief minister Sachin Pilot, the Rajasthan High Court ordered that “status quo” be maintained in the disqualification case against them, putting off the decision till Monday when the Supreme Court hears the case.
The Pilot camp MLAs also affirmed they are under no stress.
It was quite similar to the MP crisis when some Congress MLAs had slipped off to a hotel in Haryana's Manesar and 16 had later appeared in a resort in Bengaluru. As the Congress had alleged a BJP hand in the ‘forceful’ stay of the MLAs, the lawmakers had issued videos saying they were out of MP due to their own will.
Meanwhile, after 22 MLAs resigned on March 10 with the BJP leaders handing the resignations to then Governor Lalji Tandon in Bhopal, the Nath government had made it clear they won’t prove majority, at least in the manner sought by the BJP.
As 22 of the Congress MLAs, including six ministers, ‘disappeared’ from the state and remained incommunicado for the party organisation and the state government, a delegation of BJP leaders had met Tandon on March 14 and by midnight Tandon had issued a letter to the Nath government asking it to prove its majority on the floor of the house on Monday when the House was scheduled to meet for the budget session.
As the speaker had adjourned the House on March 16 after governor’s address, the governor had again shot off a letter instructing the state government for a floor test. Prior to this, Nath had written to governor saying his MLAs were held ‘hostage’ and any floor test in this situation was ‘undemocratic and unconstitutional’.
As the speaker had adjourned the session soon after governor’s address owing to covid-19 threat, the BJP had flayed the move saying it was an apprehension of insufficient numbers and not the pandemic.
The matter had landed at the Supreme Court, which asked for a floor test and Nath resigned.
Asked to comment why the constitutional authority was behaving differently in Rajasthan than what happened in MP, BJP spokesperson Rajneesh Agrawal said the situation was different as 22 Congress MLAs had resigned and the Nath government was in a minority, which isn’t the case in Rajasthan as no one has resigned.
“BJP is not the stakeholder in Rajasthan situation where political tussle is between CM Ashok Gehlot and Sachin Pilot,” said Agrawal, adding it was about proving a majority in MP and it’s only about convening a session of assembly in Rajasthan. “Here the government was in minority, there, none including the BJP has questioned the numbers of Gehlot government.”
BJP spokesperson Hitesh Vajpayee said Gehlot knows his state unit has reached a crumbling point and he is engaging in political drama to hide his nervousness. “The Governor in Rajasthan has no reason to believe the state government is in any threat,” he said.
Meanwhile, the MP Congress in a tweet said on the Rajasthan scenario: "They were in a hurry to hold floor test in MP as Congress MLAs were in BJP’s detention while in Rajasthan, no floor test will be carried out as MLAs are with the Congress party.”
MPCC media cell vice-president Bhupendra Gupta said the response to the political crisis is quite different. “The Governor in Rajasthan is not responding to the Congress government's request of convening the assembly session which proves that the post of Governor has reduced to a rubber stamp,” he said.