Rajasthan HC issues notices to Speaker, six BSP MLAs who merged with Congress

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The Rajasthan High Court Thursday issued notices to Assembly Speaker C P Joshi and six MLAs who contested elections on Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) tickets before they merged with the Congress.

This comes a day after the Mayawati-led BSP filed a petition in the court challenging the Assembly Speaker’s decision last year to approve the merger of six BSP MLAs into the ruling Congress.

The Speaker and the six MLAs will have to submit their side of the case by August 11.

All six former BSP leaders—Rajendrasingh Gudha, Lakhan Singh, Deep Chand, Joginder Singh Awana, Sandeep Kumar and Wajib Ali—won the assembly elections in 2018 and joined the ruling Congress party almost a year later. The Congress and BSP had fought the 2018 state and 2019 Lok Sabha elections together.

The bench of Justice Mahendar Kumar Goyal had tagged the BSP’s petition with that of a separate petition by BJP legislator Madan Dilawar against the merger, and started hearing both pleas.

BSP state unit president Bhagwan Singh Baba said: “We have said in the petition that the merger is not valid since there hasn’t been any merger of the BSP, which is a national party, with the Congress at the national level. No merger can take place without approval of the party president.”

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Appearing through video-conferencing for Dilawar, senior advocate Harish Salve, who had earlier represented the group of 19 rebel Congress MLAs, argued that until there is a merger of the party at the national level, the state unit of a national party cannot merge on its own since it is illegal.

The BSP was represented by senior advocate and the party’s national general secretary, Satish Chandra Misra, who also appeared through video conferencing.

Speaker C P Joshi, meanwhile, rejected the complaint, amidst the current crisis in the state where Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot is facing a rebellion from former Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot and battling to retain a majority in the 200-MLA assembly.

On Tuesday, BSP chief Mayawati had slammed CM Gehlot over his allegation that his MLAs are being poached by the BJP amid the present crisis. She said Gehlot’s allegation is akin to the pot calling the kettle black because he “unconstitutionally” merged six BSP MLAs in the Congress last year.

“The Congress is saying that their MLAs are being stolen, which is unlawful, and is against the public mandate. But their claim is laughable since they themselves did the same when they took away our BSP MLAs… The Congress is crying foul now when its stolen assets are being stolen. It is akin to the proverb ulta chor kotwal ko daante (the pot calling the kettle black),” Mayawati had said in a statement.

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She, however, rejected the speculation that her decision was influenced by the BJP and said her party did not care who formed the government in Rajasthan.

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