September 30, 2021 7:48:20 pm
After the Supreme Court granted six Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) MLAs four weeks’ time as “last opportunity” to file counter affidavit, at least four of them have reached Delhi to seek “better counsel” and a “political resolution” of the case to retain their Assembly membership. The six MLAs had merged BSP with Congress in 2019 after winning the 2018 Rajasthan election on BSP tickets.
BSP had challenged Rajasthan Assembly Speaker C P Joshi’s order accepting the merger and sought their disqualification. After no relief from the High Court, BSP moved Supreme Court. Their membership had been challenged by BJP too.
While MLAs Rajendrasingh Gudha, Wajib Ali, Lakhan Singh and Sandeep Kumar are in Delhi, Joginder Singh Awana and Deepchand met Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot in Jaipur late on Wednesday.
Ali told The Indian Express, “The matter is sub-judice in the Supreme Court so we’ll be meeting a few legal experts because the handling of the issue so far wasn’t up to the expectations. We didn’t know about the notice, the time, the deadline and why it wasn’t filed before. So, we have come to Delhi so that we can take back control in our hands. We will also hire our own legal counsel, if required.”
The MLA from Nagar in Bharatpur added, “We are not entirely aware of the consequences (of an adverse SC order), which makes us worry.”
Ali said the four will try to have “political meetings with higher Congress officials” in the hope of resolving the issue. On whether they will also try to meet BSP leaders to help resolve the case, Ali said, “We will look for all possible opportunities to make sure that the membership doesn’t get jeopardised. Because people have elected us with huge expectations and losing membership this way would be the worst thing that can happen to us, we will try our best to retain our spots.”
Gudha said, “We will meet some of our political and community contacts to help resolve our problems.”
Asked whether he will seek help from BSP too, he said “We will have to find a solution ourselves.” In a veiled attack on Gehlot, he said, “So far, the resolution hasn’t come from the place from where it should have.”
Gehlot is learnt to have called all six MLAs but only two of the four met him Wednesday.
Awana, however, denied that the CM had called them for a meeting. “We had sought time from him a week ago and were given time yesterday (Wednesday). So, we went and met him. It was a regular meeting with the CM and we discussed our constituency.” Awana and Deepchand have stayed back in Jaipur.
On the case in the apex court, Awana said, “Yes, the SC has given a notice and we will file a reply. We have legally merged BSP with Congress. It is not a new thing and has been done before too. Congress has several senior advocates and a panel of senior advocates is preparing a reply. The CM is very serious about the matter, so I spoke to him.”
While the four MLAs in Delhi are learnt to be unhappy with the Gehlot government, Awana said, “We all are in the Congress party and Ashok Gehlot is our leader.”
In an Assembly of 200 in Rajasthan, a party needs 101 seats for a majority. Including the six, Congress has 106 MLAs. However, it also enjoys the support of 13 Independents, 1 RLD MLA and two CPI(M) MLAs, taking its total to 122 members.
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