The ongoing political crisis in Rajasthan has put the Congress in a spot and has led to the Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot making some shocking remarks. Amidst reports of the Congress facing a tough numbers game with rebellion from the Pilot camp, Ashok Gehlot met the Governor at the Raj Bhawan in a show of strength.
The Rajsthan CM said, “We are going to the Governor to request him to not come under pressure (and call Assembly session).” He added, “varna fir ho sakta hai ki pure pradesh ki janta agar Raj Bhawan ko gherne ke liye aagai, to hamari zimmedari nahi hogi (if masses surround the Raj Bhawan, then it will not be our responsibility).”
#WATCH: "We are going to the Governor to request him to not come under pressure (and call Assembly session)… varna fir ho sakta hai ki pure pradesh ki janta agar Raj Bhawan ko gherne ke liye aagai, to hamari zimmedari nahi hogi," says Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot https://t.co/2UaH94tTrB pic.twitter.com/ODEq7PZGei
— ANI (@ANI) July 24, 2020
It must be the first time that a Chief Minister has spoken about the gherao of the Governor’s official residence. Gehlot’s shocking outburst is actually driven by a highly uncertain numbers game shaping up in Rajasthan.
Before the Congress was hit by the ongoing political crisis, the Gehlot government had the support of 124 MLAs in the 200-member Rajasthan Assembly. It consisted of 101 original Congress lawmakers, 6 BSP legislators who had defected to the Congress, 2 BTP MLAs, 2 CPM MLAs, 12 independent MLAs and 1 RLD MLA. But things have changed drastically now.
The rebellion by Sachin Pilot and 18 other MLAs in his camp directly brought down the Congress strength to 105. On the other hand, BJP has the support of 76 MLAs- 72 BJP lawmarkers, 3 Rashtriye Loktantrik Party MLAs and 1 Independent lawmaker. The combined strength of the BJP and the Pilot camp stands at 95.
It is here that the fissures within the Congress government could become a matter of worry for Gehlot. One Congress MLA elected from Sujangarh in Churu, Master Bhanwar Lal, is seriously ill and admitted at the Medanta Hospital, Gurugram. He cannot participate and vote in a floor test. Moreover, the Speaker cannot participate except in the form of a casting vote. The Congress strength thus gets reduced to 103.
What should be a 103 v. 95 game between the Congress government and the anti-Gehlot camp respectively can quite easily turn into a cliffhanger. Recently, the BTP issued a statement that it wanted to remain equidistant from both the BJP and the Congress. Meanwhile, the loyalty of one CPM MLA, Balwant Poonia is also doubtful. On June 22, the Rajasthan unit of the party had to suspend Poonia for disobeying the party direction during the Rajya Sabha polls.
The CPM too has issued a statement through its State secretary and former MLAs that currently it is neither with the Congress, nor with the BJP.
If the 2 BTP MLAs and one CPM MLA decide to abstain during a trust vote, then the Congress strength will further go down to 100 MLAs, while the majority mark is 101.
Moreover, the Pilot camp claims that it has two more of the 13 independent MLAs. If true, the numbers could get even more complicated. The Congress (Gehlot) camp in such a scenario would get reduced to 98, whereas the anti-Gehlot camp might end up reaching 97.
A 98 v. 97 scenario would be anybody’s game and the BJP would fancy such a situation.
The only way out for Ashok Gehlot might be the disqualification of Sachin Pilot and the 18 other rebel MLAs. The disqualification of 19 MLAs, including Pilot himself, would bring down the Assembly strength to 181 and proving q clear majority in such a scenario would be a cakewalk for Ashok Gehlot.
Rajasthan Speaker, CP Joshi did issue disqualification notices to the rebel legislators, but Sachin Pilot took the matter to the Rajasthan High Court. And the High Court has asked the Speaker to defer action against the rebel MLAs till Monday.
India’s largest state, Rajasthan is thus headed for a cliffhanger, which explains the sheer anxiety that Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot is showing. A trust vote will not be a cakewalk for Gehlot and this explains his shocking outburst against the Rajasthan Governor.