Rajasthan crisis: For BSP MLA Rajendra Gudha, it’s a rerun of 2008
Seeing an opportunity, BSP has joined the legal fight to claim the six MLAs as its own and the merger as “illegal”. The party has issued a whip for the MLAs to vote against Gehlot’s government.Updated: Jul 27, 2020 18:10 IST
New Delhi: Rajasthan legislator Rajendra Singh Gudha is one of the six MLAs that jumped from the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) to the Congress in September last year but he’s not losing any sleep over the diktat that’s been issued by his party. Speaking to Hindustan Times from the Fairmont Hotel in Jaipur, he said, “This whip (order not to vote in support of Ashok Gehlot) isn’t worth the paper it’s issued on.’’
Gudha’s blase attitude is partly because he’s done this many times before. It was 2008 assembly polls that he first fought on a BSP ticket from Udaipurwati. Just like in 2018, the BSP had that year as well won six seats, their best performance in the state. And again, just like post 2018, Gehlot had engineered all six MLAs to join the Congress party. In fact, Gudha and another MLA Murari Meena were the original BSP MLAs who are MLAs even now. What’s interesting about Gudha, however, is that while he was a Congress minister till 2013, he went back to the BSP ahead of the last polls because the Congress didn’t give him a ticket again.
“You should ask the BSP why they again gave me a ticket,’’ 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?’’ Gudha is also infamous for alleging in the assembly last year, that the BSP handed tickets to only those that paid. It was an allegation strongly rejected by the party at the time.
His former BSP colleague Murari Meena however has a completely different point of view. That may also stem from the fact that Meena is with Team Sachin Pilot while Gudha supports Gehlot. Meena has been with the Congress since he switched from the BSP in 2008.
“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.’’
That MLA is the BJP’s Madan Dilawar but the Rajasthan High Court dismissed his petition today. BSP chief Mayawati’s move to challenge the merger came as a statement that it was only possible if the BSP had merged nationally with the Congress Party. The six MLAs are key to the Congress which has it took its tally from 99 to a comfortable majority of 105 without the help of supporting independents and other parties.
“The merger took place months ago. It is surprising why the BSP central leadership has woken up and realised the merger was illegal. BSP is making this plea only after a BJP MLA - Madan Dilawar has filed a petition in the HC to disqualify the BSP MLAs. The BSP and Mr Dilawar are both wrong,’’ said Sunil Fernandes, a lawyer who is representing the Congress Party. “The X Schedule permits merger of legislative party also. The contention that BSP as a national party must merge with the INC for the BSP MLAs to merge with 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 X Schedule (Anti - Defection Act) of the Constitution.’’
Fernandes was countering the contention of BSP’s senior leader Satish Mishra who in a statement last night said that individual MLAs cannot merge unless there was a national level merger between the two parties.
“Whip was issued as the MLAs had won elections on BSP tickets and they can’t get involved in Congress’ activities or vote for them. BSP chief decided this after a lot of deliberation. We’re working on her (Mayawati’s) directions,’’ said BSP’s Bhagwan Singh Baba.
“It’s wrong to see this as cosying up to BJP,’’ said a BSP MP speaking on condition of anonymity, “Why should we sit quiet when the party which has repeatedly stabbed us in the back is now getting a taste of its own medicine?’’
The BJP said that governor or the court should intervene.
“A constitutional & legal situation has risen. Either the High Court should decide or the Governor should intervene in the matter,’’ said Satish Poonia, BJP incharge of the state.