Sainka Walia Monday, 27 July 2020

The Curious Case of Rajasthan Government

Sainka Walia
Monday, 27 July 2020

The Curious Case of Rajasthan Government

The Curious Case of the Rajasthan Government ● Sainka Walia

Sachin Pilot’s ( former Deputy CM of Rajasthan) relationship with Ashok Gehlot ( CM of Rajasthan) has always been rocky with Gehlot going as far as saying that they haven’t been on talking terms since 1.5 years. But one would assume that since their positions require a closely knitted dynamic, the latter allegation by Gehlot couldn’t possibly be true. Is this rivalry or enmity the reason for Pilot’s rebellion?

Many have alleged that Pilot’s desire to become CM got fueled by Scindia’s exit and resulted in the dissent but let’s take a moment to ponder upon all the facts. The final straw for Pilot's rebellion came when Rajasthan's Special Operations Group (SOG) issued notice to Pilot in connection with the alleged involvement of BJP leaders for toppling the state government - with BJP members hinting that Pilot was reportedly in touch with the BJP camp to become the CM. Pilot could see that the notices might have been sent to many people, but he was the main target, said Congress leaders. They said Pilot was sensing an attempt by the CM to “finish him politically”, and had conveyed his apprehensions to the high command last week. He didn’t hear from the Delhi leadership, and then came the SOG notice, provoking him enough to launch the rebellion.

After the rebellion when Pilot’s Camp didn’t obey the whip, two MLAs were dismissed and Pilot was relieved of his positions as Deputy CM and State Party President. The main question that arises is, will Pilot be able to topple the Gehlot government? With 19 MLAs on his side and an alleged BJP alliance Pilot is continuing on his hunt to pull more MLAs on his side. Rajasthan High Court’s decision ( Friday) on a petition by the 19 rebels against the assembly Speaker’s disqualification notice may be crucial to the survival of the Gehlot government as also Pilot’s immediate political future. The reason for Pilot’s optimism is that the ruling Congress’ strength has been reduced to 88 from 107, excluding the 19 rebels. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has 72 MLAs and its ally, Rashtriya Loktantrik Party (RLP) has three. As it is, the Gehlot government needs 13 non-Congress MLAs to survive while the opposition BJP-RLP combine needs 26 to topple it.

Pilot has maintained that he won’t join the BJP and wouldn’t mind grasping at straws if it comes to that. It means that Pilot is ready for a long haul, outside the BJP and the Congress, and chart out an independent path. Although he has been in touch with Congress leaders, he is not convinced by their affirmations as the party high command has made “many commitments in the past, too” only to repudiate them, say Pilot’s allies.

The only decision that can sway the course of the Rajasthan government is the ruling of the HC on the disqualification of the 19 MLAs. If the HC rules in favour of Pilot, Pilot camp will get the time to consolidate and try to persuade a few more MLAs from the ruling party and its allies to join his side. On the other hand, if the Rajasthan High Court rejects the petition by the rebel Congress MLAs, Gehlot may be right on top. The assembly Speaker may go ahead and disqualify the rebel Congress MLAs, making them redundant in the current political drama. However, in case the high court stalls the disqualification and they get to vote on a no-trust motion, risking their disqualification later, the Gehlot government would be hanging by a thread. There could be a spell of the President’s Rule, which would give Pilot and the BJP enough time to accumulate the required numbers. The rebels can always hope to get re-elected as their counterparts did in Karnataka and be rewarded subsequently.

The future of Rajasthan government depends on The HC ruling with an equal possibility of the government staying or getting toppled but who knows, maybe the Congress got inspired by the North Korean leader’s gimmick of faking his death to fish out disloyal staff and are now just putting up a show to filter out the horse-traders.

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