October 1, 2021 3:34:56 am
With the Supreme Court giving the six former BSP MLAs who had merged with the Congress in Rajasthan four weeks, “as last opportunity” to file a counter affidavit, four of them have rushed to Delhi to seek “better counsel” and a possible “political resolution” of the case concerning their Assembly membership. Sources said while Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot had called all the six for talks, only two turned up to meet him late Wednesday night.
The six had won the 2018 Rajasthan Assembly elections on BSP tickets but merged with the Congress in 2019. The BSP had challenged Speaker C P Joshi’s order accepting the merger and sought their disqualification as MLAs. After failing to get relief from the High Court, the BSP had moved the Supreme Court.
BJP MLA Madan Dilawar too had challenged the Congress membership of the rebel MLAs, under the anti-defection law.
Needing 101 MLAs for a majority in the 200-member Rajasthan Assembly, the Congress currently has 106 in its ranks, including the six former BSP MLAs. Apart from that, 13 Independents, 1 RLD MLA and two CPM MLAs back it, taking the total to 122.
The development comes at a time when Gehlot is facing fresh murmurs of dissent from the Sachin Pilot camp.
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 Wednesday.
Wajib Ali told The Indian Express: “The matter is sub-judice in the Supreme Court so we will meet legal experts as the handling of the issue hasn’t been up to our expectations. We didn’t know about the notices (for counter-affidavit to us), the deadline, and why it wasn’t filed before. So we have now come to Delhi so that we take back control in our hands. We will also hire our own legal counsel, if required.”
The MLA from Nagar in Bharatpur, Ali admitted that there was “worry” as they were not too clear about the “consequences” of an adverse Supreme Court order.
He said they would be holding “political meetings with higher Congress officials”. Asked about possible talks with BSP leaders, Ali said: “We will look for all possible opportunities to make sure that the membership doesn’t get jeopardised. People elected us with huge expectations and losing membership this way would be the worst thing that can happen to us.”
Rajendrasingh Gudha said they would meet some contacts, “community or political”. On whether that meant the BSP as well, the MLA said: “We will have to find a solution ourselves.”
In a veiled attack on Gehlot, he said that so far, “the resolution hasn’t come from the place from where it should have”.
Joginder Singh Awana, who met Gehlot, denied that the CM had called all six of them but that only two turned up. “We had sought time from him a week ago and were given time yesterday. It was a regular meeting with the CM… We discussed our constituency issues.”
On the case in the Supreme Court, Awana said the Congress was preparing a reply. “We legally merged the BSP with the Congress. It is not a new thing and has been done before too. The Congress has several senior advocates; a panel of senior advocates is preparing a reply.”
Adding that the CM is “very serious about the matter”, Awana said: “We all are in the Congress and Ashok Gehlot is our leader.”
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