In Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot's struggle to retain his narrow majority after a rebellion by his sacked deputy Sachin Pilot, a new case is in court. Mayawati's Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), which lost all six Rajasthan MLAs to the Congress last year, has approached the High Court.
The BJP had challenged the merger of the BSP MLAs into the Congress before the High Court last month. The BSP today asked to b e allowed to be party to the same petition. The move implies that Mayawati is willing to join forces with the BJP in the legal fight against the Congress.
The BJP had also objected to the merger before Rajasthan Speaker CP Joshi in March. With the Speaker rejecting the objection, the High Court has asked the BJP to file a fresh petition challenging that decision.
The BSP yesterday issued a whip to the MLAs ordering them to vote against the Congress in a trust vote.
The six MLAs are very important for Chief Minister Gehlot in his fight to stay in power in Rajasthan. He has 102 MLAs, just one above the majority mark. Losing six would plunge him into a minority and give the opposition BJP a real chance to seize power. The BJP has 72 MLAs and Sachin Pilot's rebel squad has 19. Along with smaller parties and independents, the opposition has 97 members.
The BSP argues that the MLAs cannot merge their party into the Congress in Rajathan as the BSP has a national presence and no merger can be valid unless it takes place on a nationwide level.
In June, the BSP had gone to the Election Commission with the request that the six MLAs be ordered to follow its whip rather than vote as Congress members in the Rajya Sabha election. But the powerful election body refused to intervene.
BSP chief Mayawati has posted a series of furious tweets accusing the Congress of buying her MLAs and betraying her when she had offered unconditional support in 2018, when the Congress barely made half-way mark.
The MLAs have so far been staunchly with the Congress and Mr Gehlot. One of them has been sued by Sachin Pilot after he accused the rebel leader of offering him bribe to switch the BJP.
Another MLA, Lakhan Meena, noted sarcastically that his former party was remembering him after a year.
"The BSP is remembering us after a year. It is playing into the BJP's plot. There was nothing illegal about our merger. At least two-third MLAs are required for a merger but here, all six joined the Congress," Mr Meena said.
"Now the BSP, along with BJP, is trying to destabilise the democratically-elected Congress government," Mr Meena said.