House of Discord

AuthorPublished: 28th Jul 2020  12:07 amUpdated: 27th Jul 2020  10:32 pm

As the Rajasthan political drama gets murkier by the day, it raises fundamental questions about political morality, constitutional propriety and functioning of the democracy itself in a country that takes pride in its democratic ethos. The ugly power play has brought all the wings under intense scrutiny. None of the dramatis personae in the unfolding sordid drama can claim any moral high ground as they are all guilty of vitiating the atmosphere. The conduct of Governor Kalraj Mishra has been the most deplorable, lending credence to the argument that the institution of Raj Bhavan has become a tool in the hands of political masters at the Centre. His repeated refusal to act on the Ashok Gehlot cabinet’s advice to convene the Assembly session was a clear violation of constitutional provisions and the Supreme Court’s rulings in the past. When he finally agreed to summon the session, it came with a rider that the government should give a 21-day notice to the legislators. This will only prolong the ordeal and encourage horse-trading. Earlier, Speaker CP Joshi withdrew his petition in the Supreme Court, challenging the High Court’s refusal to initiate disqualification proceedings against rebel leader Sachin Pilot and 18 MLAs supporting him. The move was aimed at outmanoeuvring the Governor, who had earlier cited the court case for not clearing the Assembly session request. The Rajasthan crisis highlights an undeniable fact that there is a crisis of faith on all sides, leading to bad blood. The credibility of every player has come into question.

The Chief Minister tried to crush internal rebellion through bizarre acts of high handedness like slapping a sedition notice on his own deputy which triggered the present crisis. On its part, the Pilot camp has taken recourse to an unedifying cloak-and-dagger resort politics and was also seen hobnobbing with the feelers from the BJP. By sitting on the Chief Minister’s demand for a floor test — the most transparent way of settling the issue of who enjoys the majority, the Governor has exposed himself to the charges of partisanship. The people of the State were treated to an unseemly spectacle of the Chief Minister and his loyalist legislators hitting the streets and protesting against the actions of the Governor. Such a confrontation severely dents the image of the constitutional functionaries and makes a mockery of the democratic values. Former Madhya Pradesh Governor Lalji Tandon was involved in a similar spat when the Congress government led by Kamal Nath was toppled in March, paving the way for the BJP to capture power. The Rajasthan high court’s order staying the disqualification proceedings against the 19 MLAs by the Speaker has also come under scrutiny.