The Bahujan Samaj Party has moved the Rajasthan High Court to seek the disqualification of six MLAs who had merged with the Congress last year as Mayawati has opened a new front against the Ashok Gehlot government in the state.
The petition, filed by general secretary SC Mishra, refutes the merger and claims the MLAs incur disqualification for voluntarily giving up their membership.
It comes a day after the party’s central leadership had on Sunday caused a new twist in the Rajasthan deadlock and issued a whip to the six MLAs to vote against the Gehlot government in any proceedings of the house, including in case of a no confidence motion.
Gehlot has been struggling to keep his government afloat after a rebellion by Sachin Pilot and MLAs loyal to him, and Mayawati’s new ploy could be just enough to tip the scales against the Congress in the state.
According to sources, Gehlot has been claiming the support of 103 MLAs in the 200-member assembly, but if the six MLAs are forced to vote against him, it could bring his government into a minority.
All the six BSP MLAs had last year merged with the Congress, which could lead to a tangle of technicalities as there are no BSP MLAs in the Rajasthan assembly.
The Congress, has tried to put up a confident front, as party sources said that the whip does not make any sense and cannot be enforced. They said the party will use all legal options to back their position, and said they already have two precedents of such mergers.
The first was in Telangana, where 12 Congress party MLAs defected to the TRS and were recognised as members of the ruling party by the Assembly Speaker. Second was the merger of six Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (Prajatantrik) MLAs with the BJP in October last year.
The Congress also said that the whip should not be applicable for the floor test, as the MLAs can still vote for the party and the BSP can only decide to disqualify them later. The party said the floor test should be over by then and those legal battles can be fought later.
Experts News18 spoke to said a whip being issued by the central leadership of party, instead of the legislative leader in the state, itself is a rare move. They said a lot could depend upon how the Speaker has treated the case of these MLAs.
If the MLAs have merged with the Congress and are now listed as Congress MLAs in the record, then it is difficult for a whip or direction to prevail on them. But if such a group has been recognised as a separate block within the treasury bench, then the whip may imply on them.