Rajasthan Governor Kalraj Mishra has asked the chief secretary to clarify the constitutional status of six advisers to the chief minister following allegations by the opposition that the appointments were unconstitutional.
The governor has forwarded the memorandum submitted by Deputy Leader of Opposition Rajendra Rathore to the chief secretary seeking a clarification on the constitutional status of these recent appointments, Raj Bhavan sources said on Thursday. Rathore alleged that the posts to which appointments were made by the government were unconstitutional as they are offices of profit.
He had alleged that the state government was trying to appoint MLAs as advisers to the chief minister and as parliamentary secretaries, in numbers exceeding the set constitutional limit, to appease the disgruntled legislators who were deprived of ministerial berths.
The BJP leader said the state government had already given offices of profit to six MLAs by appointing them as advisers to the chief minister on par with the rank of a cabinet minister or minister of state (MoS) and that there were plans to appoint a dozen parliamentary secretaries, again, on par with the ranks of a cabinet minister and MoS.
Rathore’s memorandum comes in the backdrop of expansion of the Gehlot cabinet in which several Congress and independent MLAs, who were expecting ministerial berths, were not accommodated.
These legislators will be adjusted through political appointments such as parliamentary secretaries and advisers, sources had said on Sunday, when 15 new ministers were sworn in.
“The number of ministers in the government can be up to 15 per cent of the total assembly seats according to the Constitution and it (state government) is trying to please the dissatisfied MLAs by giving them offices of profit by appointing them as advisers and parliamentary secretaries, which is illegal and unconstitutional,” Rathore’s letter read.
He cited Articles 164 (1A), 191 (1) (A) and 246 of the Constitution and a Supreme Court decision to state that the appointment of parliamentary secretaries and advisers was clearly defined.
“We demand that the governor cancel appointment of advisers to the chief minister and bind the state government to not appoint parliamentary secretaries,” Rathore stated.
Those appointed as advisers are Congress MLAs Jitendra Singh, Rajkumar Sharma and Danish Abrar, and independent MLAs Babu Lal Nagar, Sanyam Lodha and Ramkesh Meena, according to a list issued by the Chief Minister’s office. There are 200 assembly seats in Rajasthan. The Congress has 108 MLAs and it enjoys the support of 12 out of the 13 independent MLAs.
With the induction of 12 new ministers and elevation of three ministers from the rank of MoS to cabinet, the ministry now has 30 members, the maximum possible for Rajasthan. Apart from the chief minister, the council of ministers has 19 cabinet ministers and 10 MoS.