Will It Be TGIF For Sachin Pilot? Court Order On Friday, Relief For Now

Rajasthan Political Crisis: While team Pilot waits for the verdict, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot held meetings today that signaled that he is inclined to go for a test of strength in the state assembly.

Team Pilot has been staying in two resorts near Delhi for over a week.

Highlights

  • Team Pilot has challenged disqualification notices served by the Speaker
  • Only 3 days given to respond amid pandemic, their lawyer told court
  • Team Pilot has been staying in two resorts near Delhi for over a week
New Delhi: Sachin Pilot and his team of rebels will find out on Friday whether they can be disqualified as Congress MLAs, when the Rajasthan High Court announces its decision on their challenge to notices served for "anti-party activities". Until then, the Rajasthan Speaker cannot take any action against them, said the High Court. While team Pilot waits for the verdict, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot held meetings today that signaled that he is inclined to go for a test of strength in the state assembly. The Chief Minister also called a cabinet meeting at his home, the first since Sachin Pilot was removed as his Deputy over his revolt.

Here's your 10-point cheatsheet on the Rajasthan crisis:

  1. The High Court decision on the rebels' petition will have a bearing on the numbers in the assembly. Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot claims the support of 102 MLAs - one more than the majority mark in the 200-member Rajasthan assembly. A crucial role was played by two Bhartiya Tribal Party (BTP) MLAs in fortifying his numbers.

  2. Team Pilot has 19 members, and along with the BJP's 72, can give the government a close fight if it wins the court case. With independents and smaller parties, the opposition tally is at 97, just five behind the government. If the rebels are allowed to vote as Congress members, Mr Gehlot could find himself in trouble.

  3. If the court decides that team Pilot can be disqualified, it will bring down the majority mark in the assembly and the ruling Congress can win even more easily than before.

  4. During the court hearings, top lawyers on both sides argued over whether dissent is "anti-party" and whether the Speaker's action on dissenters violates freedom of speech.

  5. Representing the rebel MLAs, Mr Rohatgi said Speaker CP Joshi had shown a "tearing hurry" and had given no reasons while serving notices to disqualify Sachin Pilot and others after they skipped two meetings. He said there was nothing to show the Speaker "applied his mind" while serving the disqualification notices.

  6. "In the middle of the pandemic, only three days' time was given to the MLAs to respond to the notice. The reading of these facts leaves no manner of doubt that the decision (to suspend MLAs) is a foregone conclusion," Mr Rohatgi said.

  7. Yesterday, Abhishek Manu Singhvi, representing the Speaker, said the rebels cannot approach the court before any action. "The Speaker and the assembly are not in the judicial purview of the court for now," said Mr Singhvi.

  8. Team Pilot, which has been staying in two resorts near Delhi for over a week, has contested a constitutional rule that disqualifies MLAs if they "voluntarily" give up the membership of the party that they represent.

  9. Sachin Pilot broke ranks with his party after he was asked to answer questions in an investigation ordered by the Chief Minister into alleged bribing of Congress MLAs to switch loyalties and help bring down the government in which he was Deputy Chief Minister.

  10. The Congress has repeatedly said the "doors are open" for Mr Pilot, who has in turn insisted that he is not going to the BJP. But Mr Gehlot's attacks on his former deputy have become increasingly vitriolic. Yesterday, Mr Gehlot said no one wanted to believe that "such an innocent face" could conspire against the party. He also used words like "nikamma" and "nakaara" (worthless) to described Mr Pilot.