Rajasthan imbroglio: Both BJP, Congress to blame

BJP and Congress

BJP and Congress


Clash between the Chief Ministers and Governors is not a new phenomenon in India. In the past, we have seen many instances and there have been demands ...

Clash between the Chief Ministers and Governors is not a new phenomenon in India. In the past, we have seen many instances and there have been demands that the colonial legacy should be dispensed with. When Thakur Ramlal was appointed as Governor of undivided Andhra Pradesh, he recommended the dismissal of the then Chief Minister N T Rama Rao. However, NTR came back with thumping majority and demanded that Ramlal be removed and Rajiv Gandhi obliged.

He was replaced by Dr Shankar Dayal Sharma. But the clash did not end. Sharma declined to give fresh lease of life to three ordinances saying that they were re-promulgated many times earlier and this sparked constitutional crisis over the role of the governor. A peeved Rama Rao said, "I am not for confrontation, but I want to work for the service of my people." He described the Governor as the "puppet of the Centre."

Now Rajasthan is witnessing a different kind of crisis. For the first time, we are seeing a Chief Minister who also holds Home portfolio threatening the Governor saying that he cannot be blamed if people lay siege to Raj Bhavan. While the role of the Governor Kalraj Mishra in this case is debatable, the CM's statement is something which cannot be condoned. Questions are being raised as to whether the Governor had erred in refusing to convene Assembly session. Under normal circumstances, the advice is binding. If he has any doubt about the majority of the Chief Minister, the Governor can discuss with MLAs and groups and ask the CM to prove his majority on the floor of the House.

Constitutional experts say that the Governor has no discretion and as per Article 174 of the Constitution and he should from time to time summon the House of the State. Even the apex court, in 2016 in one of its judgements, said that the Governor's power to summon, prorogue and dissolve the House should be on the advice of the Council of Ministers. In this case, Arunachal Pradesh Governor Jyoti Prasad Rajkhowa had summoned the Assembly on January 14, 2016. However, at least 20 rebel Congress MLAs joined hands with the BJP and met Rajkhowa expressing their displeasure with speaker Nabam Rebia.

In ordinary circumstances, during the period when the Council of Ministers enjoys the confidence of the majority of the House, the power vested with the Governor under Article 174 to summon or dissolve the House must be exercised in consonance with its aid and advice. "But where the Government in power on the holding of such floor test is seen to have lost the confidence of the majority, it would be open to the Governor to exercise the powers vested with him under Article 174 at his own, and without any aid and advice," the court said.

This is exactly what the Rajasthan Governor seems to be following. With Sachin Pilot claiming support of about 30 MLAs (though the Congress has sought disqualification of only 18 MLAs,) the Governor feels that the Congress party perhaps does not have the magic figure. Whatever the Governor's decision may be, the fact is that in the entire episode, the Congress rocked its own boat and the BJP does not seem to have really gained much unless Sachin succeeds in operation Kamal as Jyotiraditya Scindia did in Madhya Pradesh. If Gehlot succeeds in proving his majority, then Pilot will have to sacrifice his ambitions of becoming Chief Minister till next elections. Though he has another option of floating his own party, with elections another three years away, he cannot ride on any sympathy wave. In one word, both the Congress and BJP messed with Rajasthan politics.

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