Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, who is left with a narrow majority after a revolt by his sacked deputy Sachin Pilot, hit out at the BJP today over its petition in court challenging the merger of six Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) MLAs into the Congress last year.
The Chief Minister accused the BJP of “double standards”, reminding the party that four Rajya Sabha members of Chandrababu Naidu’s Telugu Desam Party (TDP) merged into it last year.
“Four MPs of TDP merged with BJP overnight in Rajya Sabha. That merger is right and the merger of six MLAs with the Congress in Rajasthan is wrong?” – Ashok Gehlot tweeted in Hindi. He questioned what happened to the BJP’s ‘‘Chaal-Charitra-Chehra” (conduct and character) at the time.
The six MLAs, who won in the 2018 Rajasthan election as BSP candidates, merged into the Congress in September last, taking Mr Gehlot’s tally in the 200-member assembly to 107. Mr Gehlot claims the support of 102 MLAs after the revolt. If he loses six more, it will be tough for him to stay in power.
The BJP’s Madan Dilawar’s petition in the Rajasthan High Court argues that the merger is illegal since at the national level, the BSP of Mayawati continues to be a separate entity. Later, the BSP also filed a petition.
Mayawati told the media she could have gone to the court earlier but she was waiting for the “right time to teach the Congress and Ashok Gehlot a lesson”.
Mr Gehlot hit back, accusing the BSP chief of a nexus with the BJP to target the Congress.
“The merger can take place with a two-thirds majority. Here, all the six MLAs had merged so therefore Mayawati’s complaint is not justified because it was not about two MLAs, it was about all the MLAs,” Mr Gehlot said on Thursday.
“This is the game of the BJP, which the entire country is watching. Some of our colleagues are involved in this,” he added, hinting at Sachin Pilot and 18 other Congress rebels.
The high court has issued notices to the Rajashan Speaker and the six MLAs.