Rajasthan political crisis | No immediate threat to Congress government in the State

Updated - July 14, 2020 11:19 pm IST

Published - July 14, 2020 11:13 pm IST - JAIPUR

Strong stance: Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala addressing mediapersons in Jaipur on Tuesday.

Strong stance: Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala addressing mediapersons in Jaipur on Tuesday.

After the political turmoil created by Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot’s rebellion resulting in his removal from the Cabinet on Tuesday, there is no immediate threat to the stability of the Congress government led by veteran leader Ashok Gehlot. The Opposition BJP is far behind the ruling Congress in its strength in the State Assembly.

Also read: Sachin Pilot expected to spell out his future plans on July 15

In the 200-member State Assembly, the Congress — elected to power in December 2018 — has 107 MLAs, while the BJP has 72. After losing the support of Mr. Pilot's camp, the Congress will still enjoy the backing of smaller parties and 13 Independents, though the party has distanced itself from three independent legislators.

AICC general secretary in charge of the State, Avinash Pande, who rushed to Jaipur on Sunday evening after Mr. Pilot's rebellion, has claimed that the Gehlot camp had the support of 109 MLAs, belonging to Congress and others, who had signed letters expressing faith in Mr. Gehlot's leadership. This makes the position of Congress safe, as it needs the support of 101 lawmakers for a simple majority.

Mr. Gehlot, who met Govenor Kalraj Mishra after a meeting of the Congress Legislature Party (CLP) here on Tuesday, handed over a list of 104 MLAs, claiming a majority in the Assembly. According to Congress sources, as many as 102 MLAs were present at the CLP meeting in which a resolution was unanimously passed demanding action against Mr. Pilot and his supporters.

Also read: BJP wary after Maharashtra experience

One of the MLAs, Bhanwarlal Meghwal, holding the Social Justice and Empowerment portfolio, did not attend the meeting because of his ill-health. Mr. Meghwal had recently suffered a paralytic attack.

Mr. Pilot had earlier claimed that over 30 Congress and some independent MLAs had pledged support to him. However, only 18 MLAs skipped the CLP meetings held here on Monday and Tuesday, for which a whip was issued by the party.

Interestingly, two-thirds of the Congress MLAs — 72 out of the 107 — will have to leave the party to escape the anti-defection law. Political observers here feel that such a probability would be highly unlikely in the near future.

Also read: Analysis | Sachin Pilot revolt brings into focus Congress’s leadership battles across States

Sikar-based political analyst Ashfaq Kayamkhani said Mr. Pilot may not be able to cobble together the number of legislators required to topple the State government. The option of joining the BJP is open for him, but a number of factors will influence his move in this regard. The difference between the combined strength of Congress and that of the Opposition precludes any Madhya Pradesh-like situation here.

Leader of Opposition Gulab Chand Kataria said in Jaipur on Tuesday that a floor test should be conducted in the Assembly for proving the majority of Mr. Gehlot-led government. However, the BJP is yet to formally place this demand before Governor Kalraj Mishra.

Also read: Union Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat hints at Sachin Pilot’s entry into BJP

Bharatiya Tribal Party president Maheshbhai Vasava has issued a whip asking his party's two MLAs, who have been supporting the Congress, to remain neutral and not to back either the Gehlot or Pilot faction or the BJP. The two CPI(M) MLAs and the lone Rashtriya Lok Dal MLA have been supporting the Congress government.

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