High Command’s decision on Sachin Pilot will be the final word: Rajasthan Chief Whip
In an exclusive conversation with Asiaville, Rajasthan Chief Whip Mahesh Joshi said that the Congress government’s stand-off with Governor Kalraj Mishra didn’t escalate to the level of a constitutional crisis. Joshi spoke about the trust vote, action against the rebel camp and that the party high command will take the final decision on Sachin Pilot.
The Ashok Gehlot government had locked horns with the Raj Bhawan in Rajasthan. Despite the fact that the state cabinet sent three recommendations to call the Assembly, Governor Kalraj Mishra remained reluctant until Thursday night.
The Congress intended to put an end to the political crisis triggered by the open rebellion of the Sachin Pilot camp by initiating disqualification proceedings against the dissident legislators. The notices were issued by Rajasthan Assembly speaker CP Joshi against 19 Congress MLAs, including former Deputy Chief Minister Pilot, on the complaint of Chief Whip Mahesh Joshi. However, this plan was thwarted by the Pilot camp. They challenged the validity of the notices in the Rajasthan Court. The HC first deferred the disqualification proceedings and later ordered the maintenance of a status quo.
In order to ensure that the rebels toe the party line, the Congress planned to convene the Assembly session and introduce a trust vote in the House. In the past one week, Rajasthan witnessed intense political drama and a tug of war between the Gehlot government and the Raj Bhawan.
After Congress legislators conducted a sit-in protest, multiple meetings with CM Gehlot and three recommendations of the state cabinet, Governor Mishra finally conceded on Thursday night. The Assembly session in Rajasthan is set to begin from August 14.
Mahesh Joshi, on whose complaint the disqualification proceedings against the Pilot camp was initiated, spoke to Asiaville.
In an exclusive conversation, Joshi spoke about the stand-off with the Governor, possibilities of a trust vote in Rajasthan and how the party’s command will take the final call on Pilot. Here are some excerpts from the conversation:
Amit Bhardwaj: Last night Governor Kalraj Mishra finally agreed to the Rajasthan cabinet’s recommendation to call the assembly session. What ended the stand-off between the Raj Bhawan and the Congress government?
Mahesh Joshi: There is a solution for every crisis; we need to find ways to sort out the differences. The stand-off in Rajasthan has ended due to dialogue between Chief Minister Sahab (Ashok Gehlot) and the Governor Sahab (Kalraj Mishra). Both sides have honoured the conversations.
AB: But Rajasthan was heading towards a constitutional crisis. So was the Congress party preparing to take this matter to the High Court or Supreme Court apprising them that Governor Kalraj Mishra has declined to accept the recommendations of the cabinet?
MJ: This was a political crisis. And a political solution has been devised to end this crisis. And I think that’s a better way out.
AB: So you were not looking at the situation as a constitutional crisis?
MJ: We had some grievances from the Raj Bhawan. But it didn’t escalate to the level of a constitutional crisis. The Governor had a couple of reservations (about calling the Assembly session). The Congress government has cleared those doubts.
AB: What were the grievances flagged by the Raj Bhawan?
MJ: The matter has been very much in the public domain – be it the letter written by the Governor or the reservations that he had (regarding the Assembly session). Those reservations have been addressed and that’s why the Governor agreed to call the (Assembly) session.
But I would not claim or portray it as if one side has won, or the other side has lost the face in this stand-off. That’s not the situation. We came to an amicable solution.
AB: The Governor’s reluctance to convene the Assembly session reportedly also came from the fact that the cabinet had not specified the exact reason in the recommendations. He had also expressed concerns that the cabinet didn’t notify him about the Assembly session 21 days in advance. Are these concerns valid?
MJ: See, the sessions have been called in this manner in the past as well. In fact, the Rajasthan assembly has been convened in two to three days of a notice on a number of occasions. But he (Governor) was not ready to agree to the recommendations considering the present scenario. We have found out the solution as per the need of the hour.
We gave him a letter. He discussed it with us. And now he has ordered to convene the session, so there is no need to dwell into these aspects anymore.
AB: Are you (the Congress party) going for a trust vote on August 14 or during this Assembly session?
MJ: This will be decided by the (Rajasthan Assembly) Business Advisory Committee. There has been no discussion about the trust vote yet.
There is a system in place. Whenever the Assembly session is called, the meeting of the Business Advisory Committee is convened. The recommendations sent by the government are also discussed along with other proposals. And the list of business is prepared.
AB: But as the Chief Whip have you pondered upon the idea of a trust vote in the House to end the political crisis prevailing in Rajasthan?
MJ: I don’t think we have had any discussion on this issue yet.
AB: What is the fate of the disqualification notices sent to the rebel Congress legislators?
MJ: The notices have not been withdrawn. We are still standing with the notices sent (to the dissident MLAs). The (Rajasthan) High Court has ordered a status quo in the matter.
But that case is still going on.
AB: But are you planning to initiate new proceedings against the rebels to ensure that they toe the party line?
MJ: The High Court has ordered us to maintain a status quo in the matter. What can we do? The decision of the court is final and binding for us.
AB: Is the party making attempts to bring the Sachin Pilot camp back to its fold or are you going to settle scores in the court?
MJ: The party high command’s decision will be supreme.
AB: But the Rajasthan Congress’s messaging is reflecting a different sentiment compared to that of the party’s high command?
MJ: The voice of the party high command is going to be final in this issue. That will be the final word.
AB: As the Chief Whip what’s your opinion about Mr Pilot and supporters’ rebellion against the government? Is he correct?
MJ: As the matter is sub judice, I won’t comment on this issue.
AB: But as a colleague or a former colleague, would you want Mr Pilot to return to the party’s fold?
MJ: Well, we have left the whole matter with the high command. Whatever decision the party’s central leadership takes, we will honour that.