The Ashok Gehlot government is pinning hopes on the Rajasthan High Court over its move to disqualify the dissident MLAs of the Sachin Pilot camp, which will reduce the strength of the assembly and thus, place the ruling Congress in a better position to win a trust vote.
But what if the high court rules against disqualification?
The Congress is prepared with a Plan B if such a scenario arises on Monday (July 20), when the hearing resumes in the matter, said a NDTV report.
Quoting sources in the party’s legal team, it said, if the court ruling favours the Pilot camp, the next major step of the Congress will be to convene an assembly session. In assembly, Gehlot will prove majority, which the Congress claims it has. A whip will also be issued to all Congress MLAs, including the Pilot loyalists, to vote in favour of the party.
If the dissidents disobey the whip, or abstains from voting, they will be disqualified under the Section 2(1)(b) of the Tenth Schedule for acting contrary to the direction issued by the party, the report said. Previously, the Congress had issued disqualification notices to Pilot and 18 MLAs under the Section 2(1)(a) of the Tenth Schedule, or the anti-defection law.
The Pilot loyalists had then challenged the disqualification notices issued by the Speaker in court, saying they had not indulged in any anti-party activity. They said that disagreements between elected representatives and the party cannot be construed as anti-party activity, and argued that a party whip applies only when the assembly is in session.
Chief Minister Gehlot, who claims the support of 109 MLAs, including independents, in the 200-member assembly, met the Governor on Saturday. Disqualification of the Pilot loyalist MLAs would reduce the strength of the assembly, and thus place Gehlot in a better position to save his government.
The crisis has, meanwhile, underlined the support of the smaller parties that Gehlot would require to avoid the toppling of his government. The Bharatiya Tribal Party, which has two MLAs in Rajasthan, has claimed it will be the kingmaker of the state despite its minuscule presence.
“We have two MLAs in a House of 200, yet we are in the position of kingmakers,” president of the BTP, Maheshbhai C Vasava said on Sunday. At a joint press conference with Congress on Saturday, BTP MLAs Rajkumar Roat and Ramprasad Dindor had made it clear that they are with Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot.
Meanwhile, the Congress has demanded the resignation of Union Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat for his alleged involvement in a conspiracy to topple the Gehlot government in Rajasthan.
Citing the two audio clips, in one of which he is allegedly heard during a conversation on a plot to bring down the state government, Congress leader Ajay Maken said the BJP leader should quit on moral grounds.
“If Union Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat is claiming that it is not his voice and the reference in the audio clip is of some other Gajendra Singh, then why is he afraid of giving his voice samples,” Maken asked. He said Shekhawat has no moral authority to continue as a Union minister and should resign so that the investigation is not influenced.
(With inputs from agencies)