The Supreme Court on Thursday issued notices to Rajasthan Assembly Speaker CP Joshi and others, while hearing two separate pleas against the merger of six Bahujan Samaj Party MLAs into the ruling Congress Legislature Party in the state in 2019.
Sandeep Yadav, Wajib Ali, Deepchand Kheria, Lakhan Meena, Jogendra Awana and Rajendra Gudha had won in elections to the Rajasthan Assembly in 2018 on BSP tickets. However, in September 2019, they joined the Congress. The merger was a boost to the Ashok Gehlot-led Rajasthan government as the tally of the Congress increased to over 100 in the house of 200 MLAs.
On August 24, the Rajasthan High Court set aside the order of the Speaker allowing the MLAs to join the Congress, saying that the decision was an administrative one, and not an adjudication on the merger claim. The court had also set aside the BJP leader’s plea urging the court to declare the merger illegal. The BSP and Dilawar then moved petitions against the High Court’s order in the Supreme Court.
On Thursday, besides the Speaker, a two-judge bench of Justices S Abdul Nazeer and KM Joseph also issued notices to the Assembly secretary and all six MLAs on the matter.
One of the pleas against the merger contends that the Speaker had taken the decision in an “arbitrary manner, without even issuing any notice or granting any opportunity of hearing to the petitioner herein/BSP, which is the ‘Original Political Party...”, Live Law reported. The plea also argues that the High Court had erred in considering the Speaker’s order as an administrative decision, adding it was done on a “mere presumption/assumption without there being any such purpose evident from Order dated 19.09.2019”.
After the rebellion by former Rajasthan Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot along with some MLAs in 2019, the party had 107 of the 200 seats in the Assembly. The Bharatiya Janata Party had 72 MLAs and needed 30 more to topple the Congress government. Ahead of the trust vote in August, BSP chief Mayawati had issued a whip to the six former party MLAs who merged with the Congress to vote against the Ashok Gehlot-led government.
The Gehlot-led Congress government in Rajasthan won the trust vote in the Assembly on August 14, ending a month-long political turmoil in the state, triggered by Pilot’s revolt against the party. A day before the trust vote, Pilot and Gehlot cordially met at a key Congress meeting. On August 10, the Congress secured a truce with Pilot by announcing a three-member panel to address his grievances.