As things stand today, rebel Congress leader Sachin Pilot appears to have got a breather till Monday. Political observers say a more prolonged stand-off in Rajasthan will help the BJP and Pilot, even though the two sides claim to be independent in the ongoing political war in the state.
The Supreme Court on Thursday refused to restrain the Rajasthan High Court from delivering its verdict on rebel Congress MLAs’ petition challenging disqualification proceedings initiated against them by Rajasthan Assembly Speaker CP Joshi.
However, the Apex Court also made it clear that the high court’s judgment will be subject to the outcome of proceedings before it.
Observers say a breather till Monday may prove to be an advantage for the BJP and Pilot. Even though the rebel Congress leader claims he is not joining the BJP, sources say the saffron strategy in Rajasthan now depends upon Pilot’s ability to save what he has and wean away some more MLAs from the Gehlot camp.
The saffron party is hoping that the former Deputy Chief Minister gets more time to engineer defections and help it form the government, provided he joins the BJP which he claims he is not.\
If Pilot does shift to the saffron side, they can together claim 96 MLAs in the 200-member House, including 72 MLAs from the BJP, 18 Congress’ rebels, three of Hanuman Beniwal’s RLP and three Independents.
Once MLAs of the Gehlot camp move out of the hotel they are lodged, many things can happen on the floor of the House.
The Gehlot camp may have the edge for now but the situation might change in favour of the BJP if the situation gets prolonged. And this despite senior BJP leader and former CM Vasundhra Raje “not playing” the way her party would like her too in Rajasthan.
The observers say Raje is one reason why the BJP has not been able to move as smoothly in Rajasthan as in MP and Karnataka.
Unlike his “erstwhile” colleague Jyotiraditya Scindia in Madhya Pradesh, Pilot appears to be not inclined in joining the BJP though sources say he is “in touch”.
Another difference is that unlike Kamal Nath in Madhya Pradesh, who was chasing those who had already made up their mind to leave the Congress and join the BJP, Gehlot is concentrating on protecting his flock.
But it remains to be seen how long the Gehlot camp manages to hold on against the added “pressure” from agencies like the Enforcement Directorate and the Income Tax.
After a rather smooth take-over in Madhya Pradesh and earlier in Karnataka, perhaps the BJP had expected a similar situation in Rajasthan but clearly Gehlot was a step ahead.
If Pilot and his MLAs are disqualified, the House strength will come down to 181, making 91 the halfway mark and easier for Gehlot to survive longer.
Nineteen rebel Congress MLAs have challenged the validity of Speaker CP Joshi’s decision to issue show-cause notices to them under the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution, i.e., anti-defection law.
The rebel Congress MLAs contended that a party whip applied only during the Assembly session.