Prakash Bhandari: Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo Mayawati’s Sunday night plan to spoil Ashok Gehlot’s party by creating a legal issue questioning the way the Rajasthan Assembly Speaker CP Joshi allowed the merger of the BSP MLAs collectively into the Congress met its waterloo in the Rajasthan High Court.
The high court on Monday dismissed a petition of BJP MLA Madan Dilawar against the merger of the BSP MLAs with the ruling Congress. Madan Dilawar, a senior BJP leader and a former minister, has been trying to get the merger of the BSP MLA into the Congress invalidated to reduce the numbers that the Congress was enjoying and which helped the ruling Congress party to establish its majority.
The merger had boosted the Ashok Gehlot-led government taking the Congress’ tally to 107 members in a House of 200. The Speaker facilitated the merger on September 19, 2020. Since then, the BSP MLAs became a part of the Congress and were acting and attending as Congress MLAs. They have been attending all the Congress legislature Party (CLP) meetings and also the meeting of the Congress party.
Dilawar grudged that as a member of the House, he wrote several times to the Speaker demanding the status of the six BSP MLAs and how and under what rules, the Speaker allowed the merger of the BSP MLAs into Congress. But, the Speaker never favoured him with a reply.
Irked by no response from the Speaker, Dilawar moved to the high court. He made the last petition in March and again sent a missive to the Speaker for a quick decision on July 17. But he did not get any response.
Dilawar had filed a petition in the high court earlier this month for quashing the merger of six BSP MLAs with the Congress and challenging the “inaction” of the Assembly Speaker in not deciding on his plea seeking disqualification of the BSP legislators for their merger with the Congress.
Sandeep Yadav, Wajib Ali, Deepchand Kheria, Lakhan Meena, Jogendra Awana and Rajendra Gudha who won the 2018 assembly elections on BSP tickets applied for the merger as a group with the Congress on September 16 last year. Two days later, the Speaker passed an order declaring that the six MLAs will be treated as part of the Congress.
The political pundits were surprised on Saturday night, a night before the petition of Dilawar came up for hearing in the high court when the BSP general secretary Satish Chandra Mishra sent a missive to the Speaker and the Governor that it has issued a whip to the six BSP MLAs to vote against the Congress in case of a floor test.
“All six MLAs have been issued separate notices wherein they have been informed that since BSP is a recognised national party as such there cannot be any merger under para (4) of the Tenth Schedule at the state level at the instance of six MLAs unless there is a merger of the entire BSP everywhere at the national level,” BSP General Secretary Satish Chandra Mishra’s notice read.
Bhagwan Singh Baba, the state unit president of the BSP had said the six BSP MLAs are still with the BSP and the party does not recognise their mergers with the Congress and if they vote in favour of the Congress, they would be expelled from the party.
The BSP leadership on its own never questioned the decision of the Speaker when the mergers were effected. The BSP organisational set up in the state is very weak and the party cadres are visible only during elections.
The claim on the MLAs from BSP has come nearly a year after they pledged their loyalty to Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot.
Mayawati’s game plan was to help the BJP by binding the BSP through the “whip” which would have ensured that the BSP MLAs do not vote for Congress. On the other hand, the Sachin Pilot group that is helped by the BJP would get a number of 25 and this would make the Opposition’s number to 100.
The chart would further clarify:
BSP (after merger) 6
If the 19 dissidents who are with Sachin Pilot and the six BSP MLAs join the Opposition, this would reduce the Congress to 96.
As against the above tally:
BJP and the RLP (allies) 75
But if the Sachin Pilot led dissidents and the six BSP MLAs votes for the Opposition, the numbers would swell to 103.
Thus, Mayawati wanted to avenge the luring of the BSP by Ashok Gehlot both in 2008 and then in the 2018 elections to muster the numbers as the party came to power without a majority. The BSP and the Independents on the two occasions helped the Congress gain majority and Gehlot who was the chief minister could rule smoothly.
Sachin Pilot, as the PCC President, was against the BSP MLAs joining the Congress and he had opposed the move of Gehlot. But the game plan of Mayawati to help out the dissidents and the BJP failed due to the high court’s order and Congress heaved a sigh of relief.