Rajasthan impasse: Cong seeks presidential intervention for convening state assembly session

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New Delhi, Jul 27 (PTI) The Congress on Monday stepped up political attack against Rajasthan Governor Kalraj Mishra over the current impasse on the calling of an assembly session, with party leader P Chidambaram hoping that the President of India will intervene and instruct the governor to convene the session, and three former law ministers writing to Mishra, asserting that the delay in doing so will create a 'constitutional crisis'.

The party on Monday also staged nationwide protests outside Raj Bhawans except in Rajasthan, where the party MLAs sat in a prayer meeting demanding that the assembly session should be called.

The Rajasthan Congress Legislature Party (CLP) also sent a memorandum to President Ram Nath Kovind, 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.

In a letter to Governor Mishra, senior Congress leaders and former law ministers --Ashwani Kumar, Kapil Sibal and Salman Khurshid-- said the governor's office, as envisaged under the country's constitutional scheme, is above and beyond the constraints and compulsions of partisan politics, 'so that its holder can act freely and fairly to uphold the Constitution'.

'Having served as Union ministers of Law and Justice in different periods of time and as students of Constitutional law, we are of the clear view that established legal position obliges the Governor to call the assembly session in accordance with the advice of the state cabinet.

'Any deviation from established constitutional position in the present circumstances would be an avoidable negation of your oath of office and will create a constitutional crisis,' the former law ministers said in the letter.

Addressing a virtual press conference, Chidambaram said,'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.' The Congress leader alleged that BJP-appointed governors have violated the Constitution and have in the process 'gravely impaired' parliamentary democracy, its conventions and traditions.

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, adding placing 'any obstacle to calling the assembly session would undermine the fundamental basis of a parliamentary democracy.' He also alleged that the Rajasthan issue has assumed 'dangerous and monstrous proportions'.

'A majority government cannot be pulled down and we will continue to resist in any way any attempt to pull down an elected government,' he said.

Rajasthan is witnessing a political impasse with the Governor on Monday returning the state cabinet's proposal to convene an assembly session, and laying a condition of a 21-day notice period before calling one.

However, the Governor indicated that the 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.

The Congress government in Rajasthan is facing a crisis ever since Sachin Pilot and 18 other MLAs revolted against it own state government led by Chief Minister Gehlot.

The Congress plans to fight the issue politically and not in courts. Rajasthan Speaker withdrew its petition before the Supreme Court challenging the earlier order of the state High Court asking him to defer till July 24 the disqualification proceedings against sacked deputy chief minister Pilot and 18 dissident Congress MLAs.

Meanwhile, the Congress also held demonstration in several states, including in Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal outside Raj Bhavans to protest the ongoing stalemate over the holding of the assembly session in Rajasthan. PTI SKC PYK PYK

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