The ongoing political crisis in Rajasthan may have pushed the Ashok Gehlot government to the brink following the rebellion by Sachin Pilot and some of his loyalists, but a “Bhopal-like development” seems far off. This is so because the difference between the combined strength of the Congress and that of the BJP-led opposition is not razor-thin in Rajasthan, unlike in Madhya Pradesh.
In the 200-member Rajasthan Assembly, the Congress has 107 MLAs and it is supported by two members each from Bharatiya Tribal Party and CPM, one MLA from RLD, and 12 Independents (124). The BJP has 72 MLAS, its ally, the Hanuman Beniwal-led Rashtriya Loktantrik Party, has three and is supported by one Independent MLA.
On Monday, the Congress claimed the Gehlot camp had secured signatures of support from 109 MLAs – these include Congress, independents and some smaller parties. This makes the Congress position safe as a party needs the support of 101 MLAs for a simple majority.
At least 18 party MLAs had skipped the Congress Legislature Party (CLP) meeting at Gehlot’s residence on Monday despite the party whip. However, one of the MLAs — Master Bhanwarlal Meghwal, who holds the Social Justice and Empowerment and Disaster Management and Relief portfolios — reportedly did not attend due to his ill-health. Meghwal suffered a paralytic attack recently.
Besides, Bharatiya Tribal Party president Maheshbhai Vasava issued a whip, asking his two party MLAs who have been supporting the Congress not to back Gehlot, Pilot or the BJP.
Meanwhile, 17 of the 107 Congress MLAs are with Pilot, which is inadequate to topple the Gehlot government. The Pilot camp, however, reiterated that around 30 MLAs are with him.
That also won’t be enough to topple the government as the difference in the combined strength of BJP and Congress is as large as 50. Thus, that many MLAs will have to resign to bring the halfway mark down to a level where each side has 75.
Moreover, to escape the anti-defection law, two-thirds of Congress MLAs will have to leave the party — 72 out of the Congress’ 107 MLAs.
Cracking the whip on the rebel party leader, the Congress on Tuesday sacked Pilot from the posts of Rajasthan’s deputy chief minister and the party’s state unit chief. The party also removed his loyalists Vishvendra Singh and Ramesh Meena from the state cabinet.
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