NEW DELHI :
The Rajasthan government under chief minister Ashok Gehlot is fast losing its alliance members and numbers in the assembly, raising doubts about the stability of the state government which came under threat on Tuesday.
After the rebellion by former deputy chief minister Sachin Pilot and 18 other Congress members of the legislative assembly (MLAs), Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati came down heavily on the state government and asked six MLAs of the BSP to not vote in its favour in the event of a trust vote. She has also decided to legally contest the merger of the BSP unit in Rajasthan with the Congress government under Gehlot. The six BSP MLAs had joined Congress last year. “BSP has taken this decision because of repeated betrayal by the Congress. The blame of what happens to their government will go entirely to the party and Gehlot… BSP has no option but to go to court on this issue. We could have gone to court earlier but were waiting for the right time to teach the Congress and Gehlot a lesson. We will take this issue to its logical conclusion and approach the Supreme Court," Mayawati said in a video statement on Tuesday.
The issue has gained political momentum and the immediate challenge for the Congress will be ensuring it has the numbers when the floor test takes place. On Monday, the state government sent a fresh proposal, the third since last week, to governor Kalraj Mishra proposing that a session be called from Friday.
“We have asked the six MLAs, who are elected to the Rajasthan assembly on the symbol of the BSP, to vote against Congress in any proceedings to be held during Rajasthan assembly session. If they don’t do so, their party membership will be cancelled. After elections results BSP gave unconditional support of all its six MLAs to Congress. Unfortunately Gehlot, out of his malicious intent and to damage BSP, merged them with Congress unconstitutionally. He did the same even in his last tenure," Mayawati said.
In a scenario where both the rebel Congress MLAs and BSP MLAs do not support the Gehlot government in a trust vote, the party’s tally comes down to 82.
The Gehlot-led government would then be dependent on smaller allies and independents, who account for 17 MLAs.
However, these developments would be subject to any order the court passes on the MLAs as well as the extent to which whips are adhered to. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its allies have 76 MLAs in the 200-member House.
“We know Mayawati has decided to contest the merger and it will now be decided by the Supreme Court if the merger is legal or not. If the six MLAs who had joined the Congress from the BSP accept the whip of Mayawati and not vote for the Congress government, then Ashok Gehlot could find it difficult to prove his majority in the Assembly," said a senior BJP leader based in Jaipur. Senior Congress leaders say the BSP MLAs joined of their own will and it did not attract provisions of the anti-defection law as the whole legislative party joined, but Mayawati’s party is of the view that theirs is a national party and no calls on a merger can be taken by the local unit alone. A BJP MLA is already contesting the development in the Rajasthan high court.
“Undeclared spokespersons of the BJP have issued a whip of help to the BJP. But this is not just a whip, it is a clean chit to those who kill democracy and the Constitution," senior Congress leader and general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra wrote on Twitter on Tuesday without naming the BSP.