Not many, at least those under 40, were aware that senior politician and current Governor of Rajasthan, Kalraj Mishra, who is at the center of the current political situation in the state, had once staged a demonstration at the Governor’s residence in his home state of Uttar Pradesh.
The photo, said to be dated June 2, 1995, shows a confident Kalraja Mishra, then a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader, and its state president, in the midst of a sit-in demonstration, or dharna at the Uttar Pradesh Raj Bhavan.
Today, the role reversed as last week when Kalraj Mishra was at his official residence as Congress MLAs held a sit-in outside demanding that he convene the Assembly Session.
हम होंगे कामयाब…✌️ pic.twitter.com/BeoYedUC9C
— Ashok Gehlot (@ashokgehlot51) July 24, 2020
This black and white photo, then taken by senior photographer Manoj Chabbra, and published in the Times Of India has evoked more than a sense of deja vu. It has also reminded political watchers how political responses also change with change in positions.
The recent sit in protest by Congress MLAs had prompted Mishra to write to Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, stating that he was “sad and hurt” by the latter “giving a political hue to Raj Bhavan”. According to news reports Mishra had said that for a Governor to “feel threatened was a sad commentary on the state of law and order in Rajasthan.” He wrote to the CM stating, “If you and your home department cannot protect even the governor, then what is your opinion about the law and order situation in the state? With that, also tell which agency should be contacted for the governor’s security. In my long political career, I never heard such a statement from any chief minister. And, is the dharna inside the governor’s residence by elected legislators not a beginning of wrong practice and pressure politics?”
He had also met the CM inside his residence.
मुख्यमंत्री श्री अशोक गहलोत मिले pic.twitter.com/RhDzAWBHbY
— कलराज मिश्र (Kalraj Mishra) (@KalrajMishra) July 24, 2020
Now it is the turn of Congress supporters to take to social media and remind the Rajasthan Governor of days gone by. Telling him that as the state president of UP BJP and “he had the right to stage a sit-in demonstration at the Raj Bhavan, but today he is under pressure!”
राजस्थान के राज्यपाल कलराजमिश्र ..2 जून 1995 की यह फोटो है उत्तरप्रदेश राज भवन की। उस वक्त मिश्र यूपी भाजपा के प्रदेश अध्यक्ष थे और उन्हें राजभवन में धरना प्रदर्शन देने का अधिकार था पर आज दबाव में है ! pic.twitter.com/xzNOOKlSXT
— Jitu Patwari (@jitupatwari) July 26, 2020
Interestingly Kalraj Mishra was also at the centre of events when unprecedented violence wrecked havoc in the UP Assembly in 1997. According to a report in India Today’s Novembre 1997 edition, the then UP Governor Romesh Bhandari, had expressed concern to everybody over possible violence in the Assembly during a vote of confidence. Former chief minister Mayawati “strode into Raj Bhavan on October 19 to inform Bhandari that the 67-member Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) was withdrawing support to Kalyan, it seemed Uttar Pradesh was in for another spell of President’s rule” said the news report.
Then too MLAs had been moved to ‘safe camps’, and accusations of horse trading flew thick and fast. Shockingly the Assembly session that was to see the vote of confidence soon turned violent as “files and chairs were flung at the Speaker. Soon microphones were uprooted and hurled at the BJP benches. One knocked out BJP minister Kalraj Mishra.” He recovered after first aid, rejoined the proceedings, and eventually went on to serve in many senior positions.
This was the image printed in India Today then: