Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot told the state Governor that he has a majority and wants to call an assembly session, sources said on their meeting on Thursday evening. The Chief Minister met Governor Kalraj Mishra shortly after he told reporters that an assembly session would be called "very soon".
"I have the numbers," Ashok Gehlot reportedly told the governor in their third meeting since the rebel crisis broke out nearly two weeks ago. An assembly session was discussed but Mr Gehlot did not mention any dates, Raj Bhawan sources told NDTV.
The indication that the Congress is preparing for a floor test in the assembly came a day before a big verdict in court for Sachin Pilot and other rebels threatening the survival of Ashok Gehlot's government.
"We will call the assembly session soon. We have a majority. All Congress MLAs are united," the Chief Minister told reporters on Thursday. He added that he hoped some of the dissident MLAs would attend the session. "Without them too, we have a complete majority and will go to the House on the basis of this majority, and we will prove it," he said.
The Rajasthan High Court will pronounce its verdict on team Pilot's petition challenging disqualification notices served to them by the Speaker after they skipped two meetings called by Mr Gehlot last week. The rebels have challenged a rule that allows the Speaker to disqualify MLAs if they have "voluntarily given up the party's membership". Team Pilot says the notices don't stand as they do not intend to quit the Congress; they only want a change in the leadership.
Team Pilot's plea to add the centre as a party to the petition may delay the verdict. The court may ask for the centre's views on whether the anti-defection law applies in this case.
The Speaker's attempt to block the High Court verdict on the rebels' petition failed as the Supreme Court refused to intervene yesterday. But the High Court ruling will be subject to the final order of the Supreme Court.
If the rebels win their case today, they can vote in the assembly and endanger Mr Gehlot's government. If the court doesn't rule in their favour, their disqualification will help the Chief Minister by bringing down the majority mark.
The Congress has a narrow lead over the opposition and has only two more than the majority mark of 101 in the 200-member Rajasthan assembly. Team Pilot has 19 MLAs and the BJP has 72. Including smaller parties and independent members, the opposition has 97 at the moment.
Mr Gehlot said he expected some rebels to return. "They are calling us and saying that they are unable to come out. Bouncers have been hired. I hope that some of them, when they come out, will vote with us," the chief minister said.