Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot (left) and former deputy chief minister Sachin Pilot.
NEW DELHI: The fate of the Congress government in
led by chief minister
hangs in the balance. With the assembly set to meet on August 14 and the likelihood of a trust vote, much would depend on the ruling of the
Rajasthan high court
over the status of six MLAs of
’s Bahujan Samaj Party (
) who joined the Congress last year.
BJP MLA Madan Dilawar and BSP Rajya Sabha MP Satish Chandra Mishra have moved the Rajasthan high court against the merger. The BSP too has filed a separate petition against the merger of its MLAs with the Congress.
Both the petitions have demanded disqualification of the six BSP MLAs who “quit” their original party and joined the Congress. The six BSP MLAs are Sandeep Yadav, Wajib Ali, Deepchand Kheria, Lakhan Meena, Jogendra Awana and Rajendra Gudha.
Constitutional experts told the timesofindia.com that the merger of the six BSP MLAs with the Congress is unlikely to be valid.
Former Lok Sabha secretary general PDT Achary said according to the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution, merger has to take place between the original parties and two-third of the elected members of a party should agree to the move in order to be called a valid merger.
He said in this case, the BSP should have merged with the Congress and two-third of the elected members of Mayawati’s party should have agreed to the move.
Achary said, “If either of the things do not happen, legally no merger takes place. Even if elected members of the BSP have merged with the Congress, but the two parties have not merged, that merger will not be valid according to the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution.”
Former secretary general Subhash C Kashyap said the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution contains provisions on the anti-defection law. However, the original party has not been defined in the Constitution.
He said, “According to me, this means the whole party has to merge and two-third members of the legislature party have to merge… The merger of only two-third members of the legislature party without the merger of the two political parties does not mean they have merged.”
There are two scenarios that can unfold; both depend on the high court’s ruling in the case of the six BSP MLAs — either these six BSP MLAs return to their party fold because of an unfavourable court order that says the the merger as invalid, or their merger is declared valid.
If the six BSP MLAs return to their party fold
In this case, the Ashok Gehlot government is likely to lose the majority in the assembly. With the exit of the six BSP MLAs, the Congress would be left with 101 legislators in the 200-member house — exactly one seat more than the half-way mark.
Assumig the Congress is be supported by all 13 independents, two MLAs of the
Bharatiya Tribal Party
(BTP) and one each of the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) and Communist Party of India Marxist (CPIM), the total adds up to 118.
However, a group of 19 rebel MLAs of the Congress led by former deputy chief minister
is expected to vote against the Gehlot government.
Hence, the Congress, in this scenario, would win 99 votes – two less than the majority mark.
As against this, the Sachin Pilot faction of the Congress would have an edge over the Gehlot government.
The BJP has 72 MLAs and is supported by its ally Rashtriya Loktrantik Party (RLP) of Nagaur MP Hanuman Beniwal, which has three MLAs. These 75 would be supported by 19 MLAs of the Sachin Pilot faction and six of the BSP.
The total would thus come to 100 MLAs, one more than the Gehlot faction.
Since there would be no tie, assembly speaker
may not get a chance to vote.
The Pilot faction, with the support of the BJP and RLP, would emerge victorious.
If the six BSP MLAs vote in favour of Gehlot govt
If the BSP loses the court case, the Gehlot faction would garner about 105 votes.
With the support of his 82 Congress MLAs, six of the BSP, 13 independents, two of BTP and one each belonging to the RLD and the CPIM MLAs, Gehlot would sail through the trust vote.
In this case, the combined strength of the Pilot and BJP groups would add up to 94 votes – 11 votes less than the Gehlot group.
As the six BSP MLAs would play the most crucial role in the fate of Gehlot government, all eyes would now be set on the verdict of the high court.