With the opposition BJP set to move a no-confidence motion against the Ashok Gehlot government in Rajasthan in the special Assembly session starting today, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) on Thursday once again issued a whip to six party MLAs, directing them to vote against Congress.
The BSP also warned the MLAs, who crossed over to the Congress in Rajasthan, that the party would initiate action against them if they go against the order. It added that violation of the whip would entail disqualification.
In a boost for the Ashok Gehlot government, the Supreme Court had on Thursday refused to grant any interim relief on a plea of a BJP MLA seeking a stay on the Rajasthan Speaker’s decision that had allowed the merger of six BSP MLAs with the Congress last year.
It said that the court cannot interfere in the matter at this stage since the Rajasthan High Court is already hearing it.
A bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra, in a hearing conducted through video conferencing, briefly heard the parties including the counsel for BJP MLA Madan Dilawar who said that these six Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) MLAs have been wrongly allowed by the assembly speaker to merge with the ruling Congress party.
On being told that the Rajasthan High Court is scheduled to hear the case on Friday, the bench, which also comprised Justices B R Gavai and Krishna Murari, said, “We are not passing any interim orders. Any transaction that takes place (in the assembly) will obviously be subject to the court’s order.”
The apex court then deferred the hearing on the plea to August 17.
The BJP MLA has challenged the high court’s order which had refused to stay the functioning of these six MLAs as Congress legislators.
Earlier, the apex court had allowed the withdrawal of a petition filed by six Rajasthan MLAs seeking transfer of the plea pending against them in the high court to the apex court.
Senior advocate Harish Salve, appearing for Dilawar, had said that the matter can go on before the high court but the issue is what is to be done in the meantime.
Salve, while referring to the September last year order of the merger passed by the Speaker, had said there is a “curious situation” as the BSP is saying that they have not merged.
He had said the apex court should stay the Speaker’s order of September last year.
Senior advocate SC Mishra, appearing for the BSP, had said the six MLAs had gone to the speaker saying they want to merge and the Speaker “straight away” passed order of merger.
He had said in the Rajasthan assembly also, these MLAs are not following the whip of BSP and moreover, BSP is a national party and split, if any, has to be at the national level.
Dilawar has challenged in the apex court the August 6 order of a division bench of high court which had disposed of his plea against the order of a single judge, who had refused to stay the functioning of these six MLAs as Congress legislators.
The single judge of the high court had earlier not granted any interim relief and refused to put a stay on the participation of six MLAs in the proceedings of the House as Congress legislators.
On July 30, the high court had sought response of the Assembly Speaker and its secretary on the pleas challenging the induction of the six MLAs into the Congress.
Two petitions have been filed in the high court, one by Dilawar and the other by BSP National Secretary SC Mishra.
Earlier on July 26 as well, the BSP had issued a whip to its six MLAs elected to the Rajasthan Assembly, directing all of them to vote against the Congress in case of any ‘no confidence motion or any other proceedings to be held during the upcoming session of the Rajasthan Assembly.
Sandeep Yadav, Wajib Ali, Deepchand Kheria, Lakhan Meena, Jogendra Awana and Rajendra Gudha contested and won the 2018 assembly election on a BSP ticket but they defected to Congress in September 2019.
They had submitted an application for the merger on September 16 last year and the Speaker allowed their induction into the Congress two days later.
The merger was a boost to the Ashok Gehlot-led government as the tally of the Congress increased to 107 in the house of 200.
Dilawar has challenged the merger of the BSP MLAs into Congress, questioning Assembly Speaker CP Joshi’s order dismissing his complaint without allowing him to have his say.
Mishra has challenged in the high court the defection of the MLAs, but these legislators had not sought transfer of his plea to the Supreme Court.
Meanwhile, the whip has been issued even as a “truce” has been reached between Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and rebel leader Sachin Pilot, who for the first time since the political crisis began in July, met at the Congress Legislature Party meeting on Thursday.
The Ashok Gehlot-led Congress government in Rajasthan has said that it would go for a trust vote to prove its majority in the House.