Gehlot keeping a tight hold on his MLAs.

Gehlot keeping a tight hold on his MLAs.

Gehlot MLAs whisked off to Jaisalmer till House session on Aug 14 to keep BJP at bay

Gehlot claims horse-trading rates up; Congress all out to save govt

Agency Report | Jaipur/New Delhi | 31 July, 2020 | 09:40 PM

Nearly 100 Rajasthan Congress MLAs staying at a hotel near Jaipur since Sachin Pilot launched his revolt three weeks ago, were flown to Jaisalmer by a special flight a day after Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot alleged that the "rates" for buying MLAs were soaring. The MLAs - Ashok Gehlot claims the support of 102 - will stay at a luxury resort in the border city of Jaisalmer till August 14, when the Rajasthan assembly session begins.

Amid allegations of horse-trading, the Rajasthan Congress MLAs staying at a hotel in Jaipur have been shifted to Jaisalmer for the next 14 days on Friday. The Rajasthan Assembly is scheduled to convene on August 14 and till then the MLAs will stay at the Jaisalmer resort.

The MLAs were staying at Hotel Fairmont from July 13 after Sachin Pilot along with 18 MLAs went incommunicado.

Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot addressed the MLAs and said that the merger of BSP MLAs with Congress cannot be wrong when in Rajya Sabha 4 TDP MPs merged with the ruling BJP. The Chief Minister has hinted that he will seek a vote of confidence once the Assembly convenes on August 14.

Gehlot said that horse-trading rates in Rajasthan have gone higher as new rates have been announced soon after the Assembly session date was finalised. He had said “The rates of horse-trading have increased after a new assembly session has been announced. Earlier, the first instalment was Rs 10 crore and second was Rs 15 crore for MLAs. However, now it’s gone unlimited and everyone knows who is involved in horse-trading,” adding that no one knows who all have collected the first instalment as well.

He also targeted Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati and accused her of taking the stand at the behest of BJP.

Gehlot also called those MLAs for floor test who were disenchanted and said that as they won the election on Congress sign and symbol, it is their duty to ensure that they stand with the party on the floor.

Congress is going all out to save its government in Rajasthan. The MLAs belonging to the Gehlot camp have been shifted to Jaisalmer to avoid any poaching attempts and to keep the flock together.

But the reason why Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot is able to hold the fort is strong backing from the Congress central leadership, with even leaders like former Union Minister P Chidambaram pitching in to pacify sacked Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot. Responding to a question Chidambaram said that he did speak to Pilot earlier but for the last two weeks he hasn’t spoken to him.

“The sole objective of the central leadership is that the Congress government strongly serves the people of Rajasthan for the next five years,” said Congress spokesperson Shergill.

The challenge for the Congress is to keep the pressure on the Sachin Pilot camp till the assembly convenes and the Congress goes for the floor test. The Congress is wary of losing a second elected government after Madhya Pradesh where the party’s complacency cost them the government.

Congress spokesperson Jaiveer Shergill said, “Legally, politically and mathematically the Rajasthan Congress government is unbreakable and unshakable.”

In the tussle within the party and with the BJP the Rajasthan Chief Minister has emerged as a fighter. He is now being helped by the central leadership.

The legal luminaries of the party Abhishek Manu Singhvi and Kapil Sibal have been in the forefront of the legal fight in the Rajasthan High Court and in the Supreme Court. On the advice of the legal team the Rajasthan Congress Chief Whip moved the apex court against the Rajasthan High Court directive.

The party is also trying to woo away many MLAs in the Pilot camp and their family members are being persuaded to ask them to return to the party fold, said sources.

Former law ministers in the UPA regime at the Centre wrote to the Rajasthan Governor. The letter signed by Kapil Sibal, Salman Khurshid and Ashwani Kumar said that “the delay in convening the special session of the Rajasthan Vidhan Sabha as decided and advised by the council of ministers has resulted in an avoidable constitutional impasse.”

The Congress even attacked the Governor for delaying the assembly session and said that the Governor is behaving like the timekeeper of Operation Lotus rather than the gatekeeper of the Constitution. The BJP after failing in its money and muscle power is blatantly using Governor Power.
After the Rajasthan Assembly Speaker moved the Supreme Court against the state high court’s July 24 order, Congress chief whip Mahesh Joshi has also moved the apex court, challenging the order staying proceedings on his petitions seeking disqualification of 19 rebel MLAs, including dropped Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot.

Joshi contended that it is beyond any pale of doubt that the High Court, by entertaining the plea of the rebel MLAs, at the stage when the Speaker is yet to decide the disqualification petition under Para 6 of the Tenth Schedule, has exceeded its jurisdiction and therefore the impugned interim order deserves to be set aside.

The plea contended that the High Court directing status quo on disqualification proceedings is ex-facie unconstitutional, illegal and in the teeth of the law laid down by the top court in Kihoto Hollohan matter. Joshi insisted the notice issued on July 14 by the Speaker calling for comments of the rebel MLAs on the disqualification petitions filed against them under Para 2(1) (a) of the Tenth Schedule, was not adverse.

As an interim relief, Joshi has urged the apex court to grant a stay on the July 24 order of the High Court.

The plea contended that the Speaker has vast jurisdiction to decide whether a person stands disqualified under the Tenth Schedule and he may arrive at such a conclusion by taking the aid of contemporaneous evidence. Joshi insisted that to interdict the Speaker at this stage effaces the very purpose and intent of the Tenth Schedule.

Assembly Speaker C.P. Joshi, in his plea, had urged the apex court “to ensure that the authorities under the Constitution, including the judiciary, exercise its jurisdiction within the boundaries and function within their respective ‘Lakshman Rekhas’ envisaged by the Constitution itself.”

His plea said: “It is submitted that the notices dated July 14 impugned in the writ petition merely called upon the 19 delinquent MLAs to furnish their written comments/replies to the allegations levelled against them in the disqualification petitions.”

“It is submitted that the impugned order interdicts the petitioner/Speaker from acting under the Tenth Schedule at the stage of the notice itself and restrains him from even proceeding to call for replies/comments from the respondents,” he added.

The Speaker has requested the apex court to rein in the “indiscipline”, contending that the High Court is violating the apex court verdict in Kihito Hollohan matter. “The impugned order of the High Court is a direct interference in the ‘proceedings of the House’ under Para 6(2) of the Tenth Schedule which is prohibited, under Article 212 of the Constitution,” said the plea.

Earlier, making the latest taunt on rebel Sachin Pilot camp, Ashok Gehlot said that horse-trading rates in Rajasthan have gone higher as new rates have been announced soon after the Assembly session date was finalised on Wednesday.

Gehlot on Thursday met the MLAs camping in Fairmont Hotel and said that they will have to stay in the hotel till August 14 as the Governor has given his nod to call a special assembly session from the said date.

Soon after coming from the hotel, Gehlot looked altogether in a different mood and while talking to the media he said, “The rates of horse-trading have increased after a new assembly session has been announced. Earlier, the first instalment was Rs 10 crore and second was Rs 15 crore for MLAs. However, now it’s going unlimited and everyone knows who is involved in doing horse-trading,” adding that no one knows who all have collected the first instalment as well.

He also targeted Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati and accused her of taking the stand at the behest of BJP.

Rajasthan CM also called those MLAs for floor test who were annoyed and said that as they won the elections on Congress sign and symbol, it is their duty to ensure that they stand with the party on the floor. (IANS)