Sacked Rajasthan Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot and the rebel MLAs supporting him on Thursday moved the High Court to challenge the notices issued by Assembly Speaker CP Joshi after the Ashok Gehlot government sought their disqualification, News18 reported. Joshi had issued notices to Pilot and 18 other dissident Congress MLAs on Wednesday.
The Rajasthan High Court will hear the matter at 3 pm.
The petition by the rebel Congress leaders accused Joshi of acting under the influence of Gehlot. “Fear Speaker would act as per Gehlot’s instruction without giving us a fair hearing,” it added. Senior lawyers Harish Salve and Mukul Rohatgi will represent Pilot and the other MLAs.
The Congress has accused Pilot of being involved in horse-trading with the Bharatiya Janata Party. Gehlot also personally attacked the 42-year-old leader, who was removed as the deputy chief minister of Rajasthan and from his position as the Congress’ state unit chief. Gehlot said speaking good English, giving good television bytes and being handsome was not everything in politics. “What is inside your heart for the country, your ideology, policies, and commitment, everything is considered,” he said on Wednesday.
Gehlot further alleged that the Congress had proof of the BJP’s attempts at horse-trading in Rajasthan during last month’s Rajya Sabha elections. However, Pilot has denied speculation that he will switch over to the BJP.
The notices issued by the Speaker had sought a response from the Congress leaders by Friday. They were also pasted on the walls at their residences, apart from sending it via email, SMS, and post. If they are disqualified, it would help the Congress government as it would bring down the majority mark during a floor test.
The action against Pilot came after he did not attend the second round of meetings convened by the Congress during the political crisis in the state. Several Congress leaders had allegedly reached out to Pilot since Sunday in an attempt to resolve his feud with Gehlot. “Regrettably, it was noticed that some members deliberately chose to avoid attending the same despite full knowledge of the event,” the Congress said in the notice.
The power struggle between Gehlot and Pilot is not new, but the latest crisis was triggered after Pilot was summoned by the Rajasthan Anti-Terror Squad and the Special Operations Group last week. The SOG had sought time from Pilot to record his statement in a case of conspiracy and sedition registered after attempts were allegedly made by the BJP to bribe Congress MLAs to switch sides during last month’s Rajya Sabha elections. However, Gehlot had pointed out that the notice was misinterpreted, adding that a similar notice was sent to him as well.