Six Bahujan Samaj Party MLAs in Rajasthan who merged with the Congress in September last year have approached the Supreme Court seeking to transfer their disqualification case to the top court.
The MLAs in their petition said they want a petition filed in the Rajasthan High Court seeking their disqualification for alleged defiance of the BSP's whip in favour of the Congress to be transferred to the Supreme Court.
A single bench of the Rajasthan High Court will next week hear the BSP and BJP's petition against the merger of the six BSP MLAs with Congress in Rajasthan.
An appeal by the party led by former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati seeking a temporary freeze on the merger of its six former legislators with Rajasthan's Congress government was dismissed by the High Court on Thursday, which left the decision to the single bench hearing the case.
The decision, expected on August 11, will have crucial implications for the Ashok Gehlot government, which is struggling to hold on to its majority in face of the rebellion by Sachin Pilot and his 18 loyalist MLAs.
In their petition, the MLAs said identical questions raised before the Rajasthan High Court is pending in the Supreme Court. "High Court as well as Supreme Court ought not to examine whether there is a merger of BSP with Congress, but must only examine whether Speaker of the Rajasthan Assembly has satisfied himself within the contours of the top court judgement in 1992 in Kihoto Hollohan case," the MLAs said.
Mr Gehlot claims he has the support of 102 MLAs, one above the majority mark. If there is a freeze on the merger, Mr Gehlot's numbers will drop and he will have a tougher fight on his hands in case of a trust vote.
Without the former BSP men, Ashok Gehlot's numbers will drop from 102 to 96. The BJP has 72 MLAs. With the rebel camp and three independents MLAs, the numbers of the other side will touch 97. The halfway mark in the assembly will also come down to 97 from the current 101.
The BSP and BJP had demanded a stay on the participation of the six MLAs in the house proceedings - crucial if the Ashok Gehlot government has to take a trust vote.
The six BSP MLAs - Sandeep Yadav, Wajib Ali, Deepchand Kheria, Lakhan Meena, Jogendra Awana and Rajendra Gudha - had defected to the Congress in September last year, helping the Congress, which won 101 seats, raise its tally.