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States » North

Pilot takes battle royale to court

Pilot takes battle royale to court

Jaipur/New Delhi, Jul 16 (UNI) The political crisis in Rajasthan worsened on Thursday after rebel Congress leader Sachin Pilot and 18 other MLAs approached the Rajasthan High Court challenging the notice sent by the Speaker to disqualify them from the state Assembly.

They challenged the notice on the grounds that state Assembly was not in session and also the 'anti-defection law' highlighted in the notice for disqualification.

The law prevents political defections prompted by the lure of office or material benefits or other like considerations. It ensures that a party member does not violate the mandate and in case he does so, he will lose his membership of the House.

However, the law has an exception when two-third of the legislators of a political party decide to merge into another party.

The notices were sent by Speaker C P Joshi on Tuesday evening, hours after Mr Pilot was removed from the posts of deputy chief minister and state president for 'anti-party' activities. Two other cabinet ministers Vishvendra Singh and Ramesh Meena, said to be Mr Pilot's loyalists, were also dropped.

Later, these notices were found pasted outside the houses of several MLAs asking a reply by July 17, Friday.

Mr Pilot and other rebels going to court has taken many by surprise as till Wednesday, it was believed that dust has settled after the former categorically rejected joining the BJP and received an offer from Congress to return to the party's fold.

Also, the Speaker not withdrawing notices indicate that the 'tussle' is still on.

Ironically, on one hand Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala has asked Mr Pilot and others to return to the desert state, while on the other hand, Mr Gehlot has claimed that they (rebels) are indulged in horse-trading to topple the state government.

The difference of opinion indicates huge divide related to Mr Pilot in Congress leadership at New Delhi and Jaipur.

Meanwhile, despite repeated calls from the Congress, Mr Pilot remains cemented in Manesar hotel in Delhi-NCR region, over 280-km-away from the Pink city.

He has neither issued any statement, nor held press conference over the matter.

Surprisingly, Bharatiya Janata Party is maintaining a 'radio-silence' over the turmoil. All the allegations have been responded by either Leader of Opposition in Rajasthan or party president. Former Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje and BJP national president J P Nadda are also mute spectators of the turn of events.

The political turmoil in the desert state began last week when Special Protection Group, constituted to investigate alleged horse-trading during Rajya Sabha polls, sent a notice to Mr Pilot for recording his statements. Mr Pilot along with several MLAs then moved to Delhi-NCR region and claimed the support of 30 MLAs sufficient to topple Gehlot government.

On Wednesday, Mr Pilot categorically refuted the rumors that he will join the BJP and asserted he was still a Congressman.

If the disqualification of 19 MLAs take place, the strength of the Assembly will be reduced to 181, with a new halfway-mark of 91 required to rule the House.

The disqualification will make it easier for Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot to retain the majority.

In the present Assembly, Congress has 107 MLAs while Bhartiya Janata Party 72.

Thirteen independents, two MLAs each from the CPI(M) and the Bhartiya Tribal Party (BTP), and one from the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) are reportedly in the Congress kitty.


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