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Breather for Ashok Gehlot, Rajasthan High Court disposes of pleas against BSP-Congress merger

The Financial Express logo The Financial Express 06-08-2020 FE Online
a close up of Ashok Gehlot: Breather for Ashok Gehlot, Rajasthan High Court disposes of pleas against BSP-Congress merger © Provided by The Financial Express Breather for Ashok Gehlot, Rajasthan High Court disposes of pleas against BSP-Congress merger © Provided by The Financial Express

The Rajasthan High Court on Thursday disposed of a petition with certain conditions filed by a BJP leader and the BSP seeking to freeze the merger of six BSP MLAs with the ruling Congress in the state, news agency ANI reported. Madan Dilawar, an MLA from Ramganjmandi constituency, and BSP national secretary Satish Mishra had approached the division bench on Tuesday against the single-judge bench order.

Both the parties had earlier filed writ petitions challenging the decision of Speaker CP Joshi in September 2019 allowing merger of the six BSP MLAs with the Congress.

The single-judge bench of Justice Mahendra Kumar Goyal had issued notices to the speaker and secretary of the assembly, and the six MLAs on July 30 and directed them to submit replies on August 11. However, the judge had not granted any interim relief and refused to put a stay on the six BSP MLAs’ participation in the proceedings of the House as Congress legislators.

The division bench of Chief Justice Indrajit Mahanty and Justice Prakash Gupta had issued a notice to the assembly speaker on Wednesday on the appeal but no reply was filed on his behalf. His counsel Kapil Sibal argued in the court that the appeal in the division bench is not maintainable. Sibal also said that the speaker’s office cannot be used as a post office to get the notices served to any MLA.

The High Court said the single judge-bench will hear the stay application of the BJP and the BSP on August 11.

The BSP had won six seats in the Assembly elections held in 2018. All the six MLAs joined the ruling Congress a year later. The six MLAs are — Sandeep Yadav, Wajib Ali, Deepchand Kheria, Lakhan Meena, Jogendra Awana and Rajendra Gudha.

The High Court’s decision will have implications for the Congress government led by Ashok Gehlot in the state. Gehlot is struggling to hold on to its majority in face of the rebellion by Sachin Pilot and 18 party MLAs.

Gehlot has claimed that he has the support of 102 MLAs, one more than the majority mark in the 200-member House. While Gehlot and MLAs loyal to him are staying at a Jaisalmer hotel, Pilot and 18 dissident Congress MLAs are camping a resort in Gurugram.

Governor Kalraj Mishra has convened a session of Legislative Assembly from August 14. CM Gehlot is likely to seek trust vote to end the political drama in the state that began after Pilot’s revolt last month. Pilot was later sacked as deputy CM and also Congress’ Rajasthan unit president.

The Bharatiya Janata Party has 72 MLAs in the Rajasthan Legislative Assembly.

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