The Bahujan Samaj Party on Sunday issued a whip to its six former legislators in Rajasthan to vote against the Congress government in case of a trust vote, PTI reported on Monday. The six MLAs had left the Bahujan Samaj Party last year to join the Congress.

Bahujan Samaj Party General Secretary Satish Chandra Mishra said in a statement: “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 10th 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.”

Mishra said that if the six MLAs vote against the party, they can be disqualified from the Assembly. “It has been further stated in the notice that therefore they are bound to follow the ‘whip’ of BSP failing which they would entail disqualification,” the statement said.

The legislators in question are Sandeep Yadav, Wajib Ali, Deepchand Kheria, Lakhan Meena, Jogendra Awana and Rajendra Gudha. They applied for merger with the Congress on September 16, 2019, a request granted by Speaker Chandra Prakash Joshi. The merger was an effort to boost the Ashok Gehlot-led government.

A Bharatiya Janata Party legislator had on July 24 filed a petition in the Rajasthan High Court for quashing the merger of the six MLAs with the Congress. The court will hear the matter on Monday. The petitioner, Madan Dilawar, has questioned the inaction of the Speaker on his complaint in March this year for disqualification of the Bahujan Samaj Party MLAs.

On Sunday, the Bahujan Samaj Party said it will file a separate writ petition in the court, or intervene in a pending disqualification petition.

The Rajasthan crisis

The Congress government in Rajasthan has been on the brink of collapse since former Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot rebelled against Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and proceeded with a few MLAs to Delhi earlier this month. Pilot was sacked as the Rajasthan deputy chief minister and as the Congress’ state unit chief on July 14. The next day, Assembly Speaker CP Joshi sent disqualification notices to Pilot and 18 other legislators.

The notices were served after the MLAs defied a whip to attend two Congress Legislature Party meetings to resolve the political crisis in the state. However, the MLAs said that a party whip applies only when the Assembly is in session.

In filings before the Rajasthan High Court, the legislators sought to quash the notices, arguing that they had neither given up their membership of the House nor did their failure to attend two Congress meetings make them liable for disqualification on the ground of defection. They added that elected representatives of the people cannot be removed from his post on the whims and fancies of their party’s leadership.

After the rebel MLAs approached the High Court, the Speaker was initially asked to defer action. But on July 24, Pilot and 18 other dissident MLAs got partial relief from the High Court, which ordered maintenance of status quo on the disqualification notices. The court order put the disqualification procedure on hold.

The Congress has 107 MLAs in the Rajasthan Assembly (including the six Bahujan Samaj Party turncoats) following Pilot’s revolt. The majority mark in the 200-member House is 101.