Convene the Rajasthan Assembly | HT Editorial - Hindustan Times
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Convene the Rajasthan Assembly | HT Editorial

Jul 29, 2020 06:54 PM IST

The governor must not overstep his mandate

Rajasthan is witnessing not just a political crisis — which is an outcome of the power struggle between chief minister (CM) Ashok Gehlot and his now-dismissed deputy CM, Sachin Pilot. It is also staring at a constitutional crisis, with a deepening rift between two of the state’s most important institutions — the office of the governor and the office of the CM. Mr Gehlot wants an assembly session from July 31 to be able to prove that his government enjoys the confidence of a majority of the members of the House. Governor Kalraj Mishra has appeared reluctant in doing so, and asked for a set of clarifications on the agenda and Covid-19 protocols, besides hinting at a three-week notice period to convene the Assembly. On Tuesday, the government got back to the governor, telling him, quite bluntly, that imposing what can be construed as conditions is beyond his authority. On Wednesday, Mr Mishra once again rejected Mr Gehlot’s request.

Rajasthan Governor Kalraj Mishra addresses a press conference in Jaipur
Rajasthan Governor Kalraj Mishra addresses a press conference in Jaipur

The government, on this issue, is right. It is important to go back to first principles here. The elected executive has a right to ask for a session of the legislature. This is an established constitutional principle, reiterated by successive Supreme Court judgments. The governor, in the case of assemblies, or the President of India, in the case of Parliament, has limited discretionary room in this regard. It is also both an established custom, and good form, for any government to seek to prove its majority in the House — when there are doubts about its stability. It is not in television studios or in hotel resorts that the longevity of a government is determined. It is on the floor of the House.

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And that is why Mr Mishra — a former political figure from the Bharatiya Janata Party — must do the right thing and convene the House. He owes it to both the letter and spirit of the Constitution and the dignity of his office. Not doing so is giving rise to the perception that the office of the governor is acting in a partisan way to allow the rebel legislators, and the Opposition, time to rally numbers to destabilise the government. This perception may or may not be true — but his inaction is creating a wrong precedent and undermining faith in institutions.

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