Mayawati’s BSP springs a surprise, heads to Rajasthan court to reclaim her 6 MLAs from Congress
The BSP said on Sunday evening that the six MLAs - counted as Congress MLAs by the assembly - had been directed to vote against the Gehlot government in a no-confidence vote.Updated: Jul 27, 2020, 11:34 IST
Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party on Sunday evening dived headlong into the Ashok Gehlot versus Sachin Pilot playing out in Rajasthan, declaring that the party would also approach the high court to reclaim the party’s six lawmakers who merged the legislative party with the Congress last year.
The six legislators had asked Speaker CP Joshi to consider the BSP legislative party to have merged into the Congress in September last year, a request that was promptly accepted by CP Joshi. The defection had riled BSP boss Mayawati who had launched sharp attacks at Gehlot for backstabbing the BSP though it had been supporting his government.
This was the second time in a decade that chief minister Ashok Gehlot had lured Mayawati’s lawmakers to his party. In his previous term as chief minister, Gehlot had been able to similarly persuade all the six legislators from Mayawati’s party to join the Congress.Watch: BSP asks 6 MLAs to vote against Congress l What it means for Gehlot govt
Last year’s induction of the six BSP lawmakers placed the Congress comfortably over the majority mark of 101. Gehlot also had the support of 12 out of 13 independent legislators and the 5 legislators from smaller parties.
Gehlot appeared invincible. But Sachin Pilot, his deputy in the government and Rajasthan Congress chief till earlier this month, had other ideas. Pilot moved out of Jaipur early this month with his group of legislators amid buzz that he was, along with the BJP, trying to pull down the Gehlot government.
The Congress moved fast, sacking Pilot from his positions in the party and the government and asking Speaker CP Joshi to start disqualification proceedings against him and 18 lawmakers backing him.
The rebellion did deplete Gehlot government’s strength in the assembly; the Congress government had 125 members in the 200-member assembly till late last month. But by most accounts, he appeared to have a tenuous majority.
Mayawati had tweeted her first statement on the Rajasthan standoff 9 days ago, pouring out her anger on Ashok Gehlot for stealing her lawmakers, tapping phones of rivals and demanding that the governor impose central rule on Rajasthan. And then, not a word.
It was a BJP lawmaker Madan Dilawar who finally approached the high court last week challenging the merger. Dilawar’s petition also underlined that speaker CP Joshi, who had issued notices to Pilot and his team within hours of receipt of a complaint from the Congress, was yet to decide the BSP’s complaint filed last year that asked for disqualification proceedings against the 6 BSP legislators who joined the Congress.
The BSP finally moved Sunday evening, announcing that the six MLAs - counted as Congress MLAs by the assembly - had been directed to vote against the Gehlot government in a no-confidence vote. The directive, issued by BSP general secretary Satish Chandra Misra, told the six legislators that speaker CP Joshi’s order merging the BSP legislative party into the Congress was illegal because there had been no such merger of the party.
Mayawati’s party also said that the BSP would move the high court against the speaker’s order but indicated that it hadn’t made up its mind if it should file an application to become a party in the ongoing disqualification case or file a fresh petition.
The BSP effort to wade into the political row came at a time when Ashok Gehlot has been particularly struggling to get governor Kalraj Mishra to convene the assembly so that the Congress government can face the trust vote. Gehlot has claimed the support of 102 lawmakers, just one seat over the majority mark of 101. Congress leaders are concerned that if Gehlot does not get to prove his majority soon, Pilot or the BJP could succeed in luring out a couple of lawmakers and reduce the government to a minority.
This tenuous majority also leaves scope for the BSP to play a crucial role to give Gehlot sleepless nights, and if the high court eventually rules in its favour, even play the kingmaker in Rajasthan.