New Delhi, Jul 27 (PTI) Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram on Monday expressed hope that President Ram Nath Kovind will intervene and instruct the Rajasthan governor to convene a session of the state Assembly, saying he has 'absolute authority' to do so.
The former Union minister alleged that BJP-appointed governors have violated the letter and spirit of the Constitution and have in the process 'gravely impaired' parliamentary democracy, its conventions and traditions.
'I sincerely hope that the President will take note of what is happening -- the erosion of parliamentary democracy, the erosion of the Constitution, the violation of the Constitution -- and do what is right in the circumstances,' he told a virtual press conference.
Chidambaram said the President has the 'absolute authority' to tell the governor that what he is doing is 'wrong' and ask him to call an Assembly session.
The Ashok Gehlot government in Rajasthan, which is facing a political crisis after a rebellion by the now sacked deputy chief minister Sachin Pilot and 18 other MLAs, has been pushing for a session of the Assembly.
The Rajasthan Congress Legislature Party (CLP) has sent a memorandum to the President, seeking his intervention for convening the state assembly session.
Arguing that the Governor is bound by the Constitution to act on the advice of the council of ministers in calling the session, the Congress accused him of acting at the Central government's behest.
Rajasthan Governor Kalraj Mishra indicated Monday that an Assembly session can be called at a short notice if the state government says the agenda is to hold a floor test to prove its majority.
The suggestion figures in a note sent by Mishra while returning - for a second time -- Ashok Gehlot Cabinet’s recommendation to call a session.
Chidambaram said, 'I hope better counsel will prevail and wise people can instruct the governor that he must summon a session of the assembly.' The governor has no discretion of his own in the matter, he said.
Chidambaram said if the chief minister, who is accused of not enjoying a majority, wants to prove his majority, he is entitled to call a session at the earliest to prove it. 'No one can stand in his way,' he said.
'Placing any obstacle to calling the assembly session would undermine the fundamental basis of a parliamentary democracy,' he said.
He noted that the Rajasthan issue has assumed 'dangerous and monstrous proportions'.
Chidambaram claimed that at least three landmark judgements of Courts when the Governors concerned acted in gross violation of the Constitution in Arunachal Pradesh (2016), Uttarakhand (2016) and Karnataka (2019).
He said despite these judgements and the statements of law, the Governor of Rajasthan has stalled and continues to stall a perfectly valid request of the Council of Ministers of Rajasthan to convene a session of the Legislative Assembly.
'It is settled law that the Governor shall act on the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers. The Governor has no discretion at all in the matter. The questions that the Governor had raised to stall the request were irrelevant and beyond his authority. His current stand that the law gives him a 'discretion' to summon the Assembly or not is a complete distortion of the law declared by the Courts,' he said.
The Governor, he said, is only a formal instrument to sign and issue the summons to the MLAs.
He said the Congress is 'astonished and anguished' by the attitude of the Governor and thus protested outside all Raj Bhawans in the country to highlight the gravity of the issue and draw people's attention to the alleged violations of the Constitution.
'We sincerely hope that the Governor of Rajasthan will obey the law — and only the law. He must remember that he has no other masters, except the Constitution and the law. He must immediately grant the request of the Council of Ministers and summon a session of the legislative assembly.' Asked about Sachin Pilot, Chidambaram said he has not spoken to him for the last 10 days and now 'it seems to me entirely that he is embracing the BJP'.
He said Pilot should be the first to stand up and call for a session of the Assembly and then 'we will know, which party he belongs to and what he will do'.
'He should actually join the Congress party, telling the Governor and everyone, please call a session, what he will do in the session give his decision, but, why is he silent about calling a session,' Chidambaram asked.
The Congress leader also said that Gehlot publicly has said that he will prove his majority on the floor of the house and thus he does not have to say in his letter to the Governor. 'The Governor has no business to ask him, what agenda, how many days, how many hours, that is irrelevant,' he said.
Asked about intentions of the Centre and the Prime Minister's Office, he said, 'The intention is obviously a bad intention. It is ill intention to pull down the opposition's Government, but we will resist it. We will resist it everywhere. A majority Government cannot be pulled down. If the powers that be think that people are not watching all this, they are wrong.' 'We will continue to resist everywhere, any attempt to pull down a lawfully elected majority Government,' he said. PTI SKC SMN SMN