From past few years, political instability especially in non BJP states is not new and recent Political Fiasco of Rajasthan is no exception. The face of 2018 assembly elections in Rajasthan, Sachin Pilot was removed from the position of Deputy. Chief Minister of the state and was also removed as President of Rajasthan Pradesh Congress Committee by the incumbent Ashok Singh Gehlot’s government.
This article is based upon what actually happened in Rajasthan since last month and also discusses the background of Rajasthan Politics.
This article focuses on the points:-
- Reason behind the Political Instability in Rajasthan.
- Background of Rajasthan politics.
- Comparison between political crisis in Rajasthan and other non BJP states.
- Role of the governor and provisions of the constitution for the same.
So, this article is written comprehensively keeping in mind the sequence of events that lead to the outbreak of unprecedented crisis and also events which took place since last month.
In the middle of a raging pandemic, Rajasthan found itself in the political crisis and politicians have once again proved how little they care for constitutional norms and ethical governance. On 12th July, 2020 the Ashok Singh Gehlot led Government was dismantled when Sachin Pilot and along with him other 18 Members of Legislative assembly (MLA’s) went from Jaipur to Delhi claiming that they have support of 30 MLA’s and can dismantle the incumbent congress government in Rajasthan and they also refused to attend Legislature Party Meeting and have holed themselves up in a 5 star resort in Manesar.
Sachin Pilot demanded for the post of Chief Minister of Rajasthan which he was denied after 2018 Rajasthan elections. On 14juy, 2020 he was removed from the post of Dpt. CM of Rajasthan and President of Rajasthan Pradesh Congress Committee. Sachin Pilot seeking the topmost position or Gehlot’s attempt to sideline Sachin Pilot and his 18 MLA’s whatever the reason is behind the crisis, either way democracy of the state is being questioned and faith among people for the government has been infringed and political crisis like these during the time of pandemic is the last thing a state needs.
To dig deep into the matter and extract the actual reasons behind the crisis in these sensitive times the background of the Rajasthan Politics must be referred to.
The rivalry between the 3rd time Chief Minister of Rajasthan Ashok Gehlot and the individual behind the success of congress in 2018 Legislative Assembly elections in Rajasthan, Sachin Pilot in not new and the outbreak of this internal rivalry is not unprecedented, it was expected to happen now or sometime later. The interesting fact to note about Rajasthan politics is that since 1993, Bhartiya Janata Party and Congress form their government alternatively here in Rajasthan.
In 1993 BJP won the assembly elections in Rajasthan and Bhairon Singh Shekhawat was made Chief Minister, than in 1998, Congress won elections and Ashok Singh Gehlot was made Chief Minister, than again in 2003 BJP won the elections and Vasundhara Raje was appointed to take the post of Chief Minister than in 2008 Ashok Singh Gehlot again became chief minister of the state, in 2013, the downfall of Congress was evident in Rajasthan too and BJP won the elections with clear majority with expected Vasundhara Raje again as Chief Minister, than in 2018 Congress came back to power with incumbent Chief Minister Ashok Singh Gehlot and Sachin Pilot as Dpt. Chief Minister. In 2013 when Congress was badly defeated by BJP, Sachin Pilot was made Rajasthan State congress President, so in order to ensure the comeback of his party in 2018 elections he travelled to length and breadth of Rajasthan in order to gain support of individuals from grass root levels and has helped steer the Congress from the depths of defeat in 2013 to the highs of victory in Rajasthan.
Sachin pilot won his seat from tonk with a clear margin of 54000 votes and has shown maturity while walking like a veteran politician. His diversity and various avatars are the reason behind his and congress success in 2018 Rajasthan elections. Influencing individuals from grass root levels, from farmers to tech savvy’s and making individuals believe in his manifesto is something never expected from such young politician, but after the results of 2018 elections congress choose experienced and veteran leader over young and aspiring leaders and handed over the position of Chief Minister to Ashok Singh Gehlot and Sachin Pilot was made Dpt. Chief Minister of the state, but maybe as a token of compensation Sachin Pilot was given 5 other ministries some of which include Public Works Department (PWD), Rural Development and Panchayatiraj, whereas key ministers including Finance, Personnel, excise and home were allotted to Ashok Singh Gehlot who was not ready to give any of these ministries. December 2018 till date the rivalry between these two politicians have been there and was always a situation of concern for the congress government as well as people of Rajasthan.
So, this crisis emerged popularly on 13th July when Sachin pilot and along with him 18 other MLA’s travelled from Jaipur to Delhi and refused to attend the Legislative meeting. They claimed that they have support of 30 MLA’s and can dismantle the incumbent Congress government, so to know if they can really dismantle the government we need to know the bifurcation of seats of assembly during 2018 elections.
There are total 200 seats in Rajasthan out of which Congress won 100 seats and BJP managed to win only 73 seats. Other 27 seats we won by Local Parties some of which later came into collaboration with Congress. 6 seats were won by Bahujan Samaj Party and now these 6 MLA’s are among the 18 MLA’s with Sachin Pilot.
Role of BJP
Satish Poonia, president of the Rajasthan Bhartiya Janata Party, blasted Indian National Congress and Ashok Gehlot for not selecting a young leader as the state’s chief minister. He also said if Sachin Pilot would like to join BJP, we’re still open to them. BJP also said the Rajasthan Legislative Assembly should have floor test to prove its majority.
Union Home Minister and senior BJP leader Amit Shah sent former Rajasthan chief minister and national vice-president of BJP Vasundhara Raje to Jaipur to discuss the issue with the leaders of BJP Rajasthan and the leader of the Rajasthan legislative assembly, Ghulab Chand Kataria said that they were closely monitoring the situation and are in touch with Jagat Praksh Nadda, President of Bharatiya Janta Party. On the other hand, on 15 July 2020, Sachin Pilot called for a press conference to take action after being suspended as both Rajasthan Deputy Chief Minister and Rajasthan Pradesh Congress Committee Chairman.
Sachin Pilot’s press conference, scheduled for 15 July 2020, was cancelled. Later, the Speaker of the Rajasthan Legislative Assembly, C. P. Joshi, sent him a notice regarding the removal of his membership from the legislature. He mentioned being told in an exclusive interview with ANI that he would not be joining BJP. He would also be taking the support of senior advocates on this subject. He went to visit his MLAs at Gurugram resort in the evening. While chief minister Ashok Gehlot on the other hand consistently alleged the BJP for horse-trading. But, BJP leader and Union minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat denied the allegiance and said there is no BJP link at all in the internal affair of Congress. Leader of Congress party Rahul Gandhi has told media that if any leader wants to leave Congress, he should. We will not hinder them.
Role of Governor
As Ashok Singh Gehlot takes the battle to Governor’s turf the political crisis took a most awaited turn of handling things by the incumbent governor Kalraj Mishra and could have far-reaching legal and legislative repercussions.
On July 24, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Singh Gehlot and his MLA’s were occupied in the sit-in protest for almost five hours in Raj Bhavan, trying to convince Kalraj Mishra to convene assembly session. Before choosing the path of protest Ashok Singh Gehlot requested the governor two times to convene assembly session in order to give him opportunity to prove his majority and avoid problems like horse trading, but the incumbent governor refused for the floor test both times because of the reason like that adequate time must be given to ministers i.e. at least 21 days to come and attend the meeting and also pointed out that how 200 ministers along with a staff of 1000 personnel’s be able to attend the meeting safely with physical distancing and taking adequate precautions.
Addressing the media personnel’s around the governors house, the CM has made a public appeal to the governor to replete with references to his gubernatorial duties and constitutional conscience, to convene the assembly session. He also brought the interesting fact in front of people that this is the first time an incumbent government and not the opposition demanding for vote of confidence and due to this exceptionality the governor must address to the need of an hour.
As the spotlight shifted to Governor, Kalraj Mishra issued a press note stating that “no one is above the Constitutional norms and politics of power will not work”.
According to Article 174 of the Indian Constitution:-
“Sessions of the State Legislature, prorogation and dissolution”
“The Governor shall from time to time summon the House or each House of the Legislature of the State to meet at such time and place as he thinks fit.”
So the convention of assembly session by the governor depends upon the interpretation of these words. Currently interpreting these words as that current unpleasant time of covid-19 are not fit for the convention of assembly elections.
But, other than Article 174, Article 163 also talks about the relationship between governor and council of ministers and this article also plays equal role in the convention of assembly elections.
According to article 163 of the Indian Constitution:-
“Council of Ministers to aid and advice Governor”
(1) There shall be a council of Ministers with the chief Minister at the head to aid and advise the Governor in the exercise of his functions, except in so far as he is by or under this constitution required to exercise his functions or any of them in his discretion.
(2) If any question arises whether any matter is or is not a matter as respects which the Governor is by or under this Constitution required to act in his discretion, the decision of the Governor in his discretion shall be final, and the validity of anything done by the Governor shall not be called in question on the ground that he ought or ought not to have acted in his discretion.
So, clause 1 of this article restricts gubernatorial powers and makes it mandatory for the governor to acknowledge the advice given by the council of ministers but clause 2 clearly states that once a decision taken by the governor it cannot be challenged and is deemed to be final.
Now the need of the hour or the flagship question is that which article is to be followed or what is the way which satisfies the implementation of both the articles of the Indian Constitution keeping in mind the welfare of the people of Rajasthan.
There is no doubt that the crisis in Rajasthan have come out in a way not different than in recent time in states of Karnataka, Manipur, Goa and Madhya Pradesh. The only difference which could be spotted till now is that the incumbent Ashok Gehlot government still looks strong enough to prove their majority either with Sachin Pilot’s support or even without his support. Secondly there is till now no report of Sachin Pilot or his 18 MLA’s joining BJP and betraying congress, and he has clearly stated that he will not join BJP and also Ashok Singh Gehlot has mentioned that he is ready to bring Sachin Pilot back to the party as soon as he is willing.
Though the crisis initiated due to long discrepancies between two supreme leaders of Congress government, Sachin Pilot and Ashok Singh Gehlot and there unjust distribution of ministries but the situation may end with NDA government’s unhealthy pastime of destabilizing the opposition led government.
Though the crisis did not begin with this pastime of NDA government but the constitution mending powers is indirectly in their hands as the state under crisis is governed by Kalraj Mishra, a BJP veteran, who had served as Governor of Himachal Pradesh and Cabinet Minister in the first Narendra Modi-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government, saying that, the crux of the crisis is that the baton is in hands of two offices, the governor and the speaker, who are expected to be impartial and neutral and should decide keeping in mind the contemporary scenario, as political crisis in rage of pandemic is like adding fuel to the fire for the state of Rajasthan.
Frequently Asked Questions
- What is the reason behind political instability or dilemma in state of Rajasthan?
- What can be the foreseeable outcome of this political crisis?
- How the crisis in rage of a pandemic worsens the condition of the state?
- Role of NDA government in this political crisis?
- What are the duties and responsibilities of governor of the politically instable state?