New Delhi: Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot Friday criticised Governor Kalraj Mishra for not giving permission to convene the assembly session to discuss coronavirus and issues related to the state’s political situation and economy, saying he is acting “under pressure from the top”.
If permission is not granted and people of Rajasthan consequently lay siege to the governor’s house in large numbers, he said, “I should not be held responsible”.
“I had requested the governor through a letter that we want to convene an assembly session and discuss many issues related to the political situation, coronavirus, the aftermath of the lockdown, the economic situation, and other issues,” he said, while interacting with the media outside Hotel Fairmont in Jaipur.
“We thought that the governor would give us a go-ahead by last night itself (Thursday night) but that has not happened. There is no reason for the governor to reject this request,” he added.
The Rajasthan chief minister’s comments come amid a rebellion by former Rajasthan Congress chief Sachin Pilot, who claims to have the support of 18 MLAs currently believed to be holed up at a Manesar hotel. While the Congress has claimed the rebellion is a bid to topple the government, Pilot has stated that he remains loyal to the party and is only protesting against the Gehlot government.
He said the Congress “feels” Mishra “is not issuing directions to call the assembly session… due to pressure from the top”.
“When we want to come to the floor.. At one point the opposition was saying why aren’t you calling an assembly session. When today, we want to call it, the entire Rajasthan public is watching what’s happening. Rajasthan doesn’t have a tradition of tod phod ki rajniti (politics of destruction),” he said.
Gehlot said they want the assembly session to begin Monday. “We have a full majority, we have no problem in proving it. But it seems that the governor is more worried,” he added.
The chief minister then referred to the rebellion by his former deputy Sachin Pilot and 18 other MLAs, saying “the entire conspiracy has been hatched by the BJP amid Covid-19”.
“We are of the view that the MLAs in Haryana (from Pilot’s camp) want to return to the party’s fold too, some have even contacted us to rescue them,” he said. “This entire conspiracy has been hatched by the BJP. We are supposed to be fighting coronavirus but the BJP is busy in toppling our government,” he added.
Gehlot said he spoke to the governor on phone Friday too — the governor’s is a constitutional position, he said, adding that Mishra should respect the fact and give his consent. “Otherwise all of us MLAs will come and request that you give permission to start the assembly session by Monday jahan doodh ka dhoodh pani ka pani ho jayega (where everything will become clear),” he said.
The chief minister said all the MLAs have decided to personally visit the Raj Bhavan and request the governor so that permission is granted for the session to convene.
“There will be a discussion on the floor, the media will cover it, everything will be in front of the people. We have a complete majority, I have been saying it. We should be scared, we are running the government but they are the ones who are scared. So many of our MLAs have been held captive,” he added.
“They are our own people and maybe they also want to come but because of the bouncers and security there, and the fact that they don’t have a mobile phone, they are also not able to reach out,” he said.
Raj Bhavan sources told ThePrint that the governor has not said no to holding an assembly session and he will act in accordance with the law. “He has said that he is open to meet the CM and the MLAs,” said a source.
‘BJP operation won’t be successful’
Criticising the BJP for carrying out “similar operations in Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh” — states that saw the BJP take office after a rebellion within the Congress — Gehlot said it won’t be successful in Rajasthan.
“We all know, in Haryana, where the MLAs have been kept, we have a BJP government. The BJP is playing this entire game, the way it did it in Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and now wants to do it in Rajasthan. But the entire Rajasthan public is with us,” he added.
“It is not surprising that during the corona pandemic when we have to fight this menace and at a time when we have done so well so far to combat this by taking everyone together, at such a time they are indulging in this conspiracy to topple the government,” he said.
Gehlot also appeared to weigh in on the raids against his brother in connection with an alleged fertiliser scam, saying democracy is under threat and pressure is being created through raids by the ED, Income Tax department, and the CBI.
“Aisa nanga naach dekha nahi jo aaj dekh rahein hai (what we are witnessing today, the dirty politics, we have never witnessed before). We are all (MLAs) coming together to make a public appeal to not buckle under any pressure from anyone,” he said.
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