Ex-BSP MLA says previous party’s whip won’t matter
Rajasthan legislator Rajendra Singh Gudha is one of the six MLAs that left the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) to join the Congress in September 2019. And after the BSP’s whip asking these leaders to vote against the Ashok Gehlot government in case of a floor test, he seems unperturbed.
“This whip isn’t worth the paper it’s issued on,” he told HT over phone from Fairmont Hotel on the outskirts of Jaipur where MLAs backing Gehlot are camping.
Gudha is no stranger to a situation like this. In the 2008 assembly polls, he first fought on a BSP ticket from Udaipurwati. Just like in 2018, the BSP won six seats back then, its best performance in the state. And just like what happened after the 2018 election results, all six BSP MLAs, including Gudha, joined the Congress in 2008. He was a Congress minister till 2013, when the party lost power to the BJP. Before the elections in 2018, he went back to the BSP after the Congress denied him ticket.
“You should ask the BSP why they gave me a ticket again,” he said. “As far as the anti-defection laws go, you have to have 2/3rd of the party, but in this case we had the entire party leaving for the Congress. So what’s the problem?’’ he asked.
His former BSP colleague, Murari Meena, who too quit the party to join the Congress in 2008, has a different point of view. That may also be because he is in the camp of former deputy chief minister Sachin Pilot and his supporters, who have rebelled against Gehlot. Unlike Gudha, Meena did not go back to the BSP.
“The BSP challenge is on a legally sound ground,” said Meena. “In 2008, the BSP merger challenge didn’t stand the scrutiny of the court because it was filed by an outsider. This time it has been challenged by an MLA.”
Hours later, however, the Rajasthan high court dismissed the petition by BJP MLA Madan Dilawar, who questioned speaker CP Joshi’s alleged inaction over the merger of the BSP MLAs with the Congress last year. The BSP, too, moved the HC seeking to become a party in the petition.
“The merger took place months ago. It is surprising why the BSP central leadership has woken up and realised the merger was illegal...The BSP and Mr Dilawar are both wrong,” said Sunil Fernandes, a lawyer who was part of the team representing the Congress party in the Supreme Court in a plea filed by the Rajasthan speaker.
“The 10th Schedule permits the merger of the legislative party too. The contention that the BSP as a national party must merge with the INC [Indian National Congress] for BSP MLAs to merge with the INC is misconceived. The parent party may not merge but members of a legislative party have the right to merge with some other party under the 10th schedule [anti-defection laws] of the Constitution,” Fernandes said.
He was countering the contention of senior BSP leader Satish Mishra, who, in a statement on Sunday night, said individual MLAs cannot merge unless there was a national level merger between the two parties.
The BJP said the governor or the court should intervene in the matter. “A constitutional and legal situation has risen. Either the high court should decide or the governor should intervene...,” said Satish Poonia, the BJP incharge of Rajasthan.