Times of India | 6 days ago | 22-06-2022 | 03:15 am
Jaipur: CM Ashok Gehlot on Tuesday attacked BJP over the political developments in Maharashtra where a section of rebel Shiv Sainiks camping in Gujarat have posed a threat to state government. Gehlot said, “Everything is possible in the country under Modi. Crime, injustice, atrocities, oppression; everything is possible.” The CM said BJP leaders threaten through CBI, Income Tax and ED. Gehlot was speaking to the media in Delhi where the Congress is staging a satyagraha against the ED questioning party leader Rahul Gandhi.Gehlot said the spectacle in Maharashtra after the assembly polls is in front of everyone. Suddenly, the oath was taken at 6.30 in the morning. Congratulations started pouring in. Devendra Fadnavis, who was about to take oath, tweeted that ‘Modi hai to mumkin hai’. This means if Modi is there, everything is possible. Later, however, he had to eat humble pie. Since then, there was this tension in his mind that when he gets a chance to use ED and threaten with CBI, IT and that is what you are seeing. Two ministers are sitting in jail. Bail is not even being given, he said.“Conspiracies being hatched to topple the governments. The Constitution is being flouted. ED and Income Tax are being misused. When justice is not given, we go to the judiciary. Now judiciary itself is under pressure. This is becoming a very dangerous game,” said Gehlot. He said the BJP does not believe in democracy. “These are fascist people. They do not believe in democracy. They are doing politics only by wearing the mask of democracy to grab power,” he alleged.He said Rs 10 crore was distributed in Rajasthan as advance to MLAs. “Don't know what happened later. I am proud to say that our MLAs of Rajasthan stayed with me for 34 days. Even during the Rajya Sabha elections, many attempts were made but they failed, he said.
In a veiled attack on Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, Congress leader Sachin Pilot on Monday said that no one should be unnecessarily upset if Rahul Gandhi has praised his “patience”.Pilot said this while reacting to Gehlot’s recent remarks on the 2020 rebellion against the Rajasthan government.The former Rajasthan deputy chief minister also said that Gehlot is an experienced, elderly and father figure for him and he does not take his words otherwise.“Earlier also, Gehlot ji has said many things about me like ‘Nakara’ (useless), ‘Nikamma’ (idle),” Pilot said.“During a programme in Delhi, former president Rahul Gandhi praised my patience. If a leader like Rahul Gandhi likes and appreciates my patience, then no one should be unnecessarily upset and should take it in the right spirit,” Pilot told reporters in Tonk.Gehlot had on Saturday said Union Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat has proved with his statement that he was the main character in the attempts to topple his government in 2020 and was involved with Sachin Pilot.Parliamentary affairs minister Shanti Dhariwal said in Kota on Sunday that whatever Gehlot said was correct.Few days ago, Shekhawat had said Sachin Pilot missed, asserting that had it been done in Rajasthan like what was done by the MLAs of Madhya Pradesh in 2020, work on the Eastern Rajasthan Canal project would have started.Pilot said that Shekhawat became a Union minister because he won from Jodhpur in 2019 Lok Sabha elections despite Congress being in power in the state, and termed it (losing election) a ‘chook’ (mistake) on part of the party.“We were in power yet we lost Jodhpur seat in the Lok Sabha elections. This was a ‘chook’ (mistake) by us,” he said.It may be noted that Jodhpur is the hometown of CM Gehlot and his son Vaibhav Gehlot had unsuccessfully contested against Shekhawat in 2019 elections.Pilot, who was PCC chief during the previous BJP rule, said the party had challenged the BJP on every front and the workers did hard work that paved the way for the formation of the Congress government.Pilot said his only focus is now to ensure that the party retains power in the 2023 assembly elections and he has given suggestions to party chief Sonia Gandhi and other leaders regarding this, and work on the suggestions is being done.“My entire focus is on how the Congress’ government should be formed again in the state,” he said.He said that if the Congress and the government work together, then the party will be able to retain the government in the state.Pilot also said that workers continue to get respect. “How can we forget the people who did everything for the party in the elections?” Pilot said.Regarding the contractual recruitment in defence forces through Agnipath scheme, Pilot said, “The scheme announced by the Centre is being opposed all over India. There is resentment among the people. We want to force the government to take it back.” On the political crisis in Maharashtra, Pilot said, “Our alliance of Shiv Sena, Congress and NCP continues even today and alliance partners have said that the coalition government has done a good job. The government will complete its five-year term.” Pilot and Gehlot were at loggerheads soon after the victory of theCongress in December 2018 assembly polls to become the chief minister.The party made Gehlot the CM of Rajasthan for a third time and gave Pilot the post of deputy CM.In July 2020, Pilot along with 18 other disgruntled Congress MLAs, revolted against the leadership of Gehlot which created a crisis for the government. Later, Pilot was sacked as deputy CM and PCC chief. The month-long crisis ended after the intervention of Rahul Gandhi.
The political crisis in Maharashtra has given rise to the question whether the Shiv Sena rebels can avoid disqualification under the anti-defection law.Law and exceptionUnder the anti-defection law, a member of a legislature can be disqualified if he or she has voluntarily given up membership of their political party; and if he/she votes or abstains from voting in the House contrary to any direction issued by their party (or by any person or authority authorised by the party).There is a provision to protect such legislators from disqualification. If two-thirds of the members agree to a merger with another party, they will not be disqualified. Under the 91st Amendment to the Constitution in 2003, the exemption from disqualification if one-third of the members form a separate group (the rule prior to the amendment) was removed.How courts have ruledIn February this year, the High Court of Bombay at Goa held that 10 Congress MLAs and two two MGP MLAs, who had defected to the BJP in 2019, are exempted from disqualification and held that a merger of this group of Congress MLAs is “deemed to be a merger” of the original political party with the BJP (Girish Chodankar v Speaker, Goa Legislative Assembly).In Rajendra Singh Rana v Swami Prasad Maurya (2007), a Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court interpreted the term “voluntarily giving up membership of a political party”, and held that “a person may be said to have voluntarily given up membership of an original party even though he or she has not tendered resignation from membership of the party” and that an inference can be drawn from conduct of the member.The two-thirds ruleSome experts believe that even if two-thirds of legislators have broken away, they will be protected from disqualification only if they merge with another party or become a separate group in the legislature.Senior advocate Devdatt Kamat, representing Shiv Sena, said that until the MLAs rebel camp merges with another party, disqualification under the anti-defection law will still apply to them. He said there are court judgements including in the Ravi Naik case (1994) in the Supreme Court which held this view.Senior advocate Shrihari Aney, a former Advocate General of Maharashtra, said there are debatable positions about the anti-defection law. “Various courts have passed verdicts as per specific facts of the case and I am of the view that the Eknath Shinde faction has already crossed the two-thirds mark and thus they cannot be subjected under this law and they are protected from the anti-defection law. They are entitled to be identified as a separate group or a ‘gat’ in the house and to participate in the proceedings.”Newsletter | Click to get the day’s best explainers in your inboxDisqualification noticesAnother issue that has arisen is whether the disqualification notices served on 16 rebel MLAs can stand the scrutiny of law. Experts said that as per the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly (Disqualification on grounds of Defection) Rules and other stipulations, the Deputy Speaker’s decision cannot be upheld.Aney said, “In my opinion, the notices disqualifying some MLAs are void ab initio. The orders are premised on the ground that these MLAs did not attend the official meeting and did not adhere to the whip. But, a whip is limited only to the business of the legislature… Here it was for a meeting called by their president Uddhav Thackeray.”
MUMBAI: BJP on Monday finally opened up about the Eknath Shinde-led revolt in Shiv Sena, refusing to call that camp "rebels" and saying it was open to considering proposals on government formation from the faction. "We do not consider anyone a rebel. If two-thirds of the MLAs are with Shinde, how can they be called rebels?" asked senior BJP leader Sudhir Mungantiwar, speaking after a meeting at Devendra Fadnavis' house. So far, BJP had termed the Sena turmoil an internal matter of the party and refused to comment on it. However, after Monday's Supreme Court order shielding the rebels, it immediately held a meeting of its state core committee. "Based on the Supreme Court order, whatever proposals (on government formation) come forward will be considered. BJP is closely watching the day-to-day events, the core committee will meet again and take a decision at the appropriate time in the interest of the state and its people," he added. "Shiv Sena group leader Eknath Shinde has so far not given us any proposal. Whenever a proposal comes from Shiv Sena - since they call themselves the true Sena - we shall consider it," he said. Mungantiwar added that at this point, BJP does not feel the need to ask for a floor test.
Leader of Opposition in West Bengal Assembly Suvendu Adhikari on Monday hinted at toppling of the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress (TMC) government in the state in 2024 after doing the same in Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Jharkhand.The BJP leader’s controversial statement came in the backdrop of a political turmoil in Maharashtra where the alliance party government is struggling stay afloat following withdrawal of support from a section of MLAs.Addressing party workers in Cooch Behar district on Monday, Adhikari said, “It won’t have to be in 2026 (next state Assembly polls). The ouster will take place in 2024. Just wait a little more. We will oust this government in 2024. This has just begun in Maharashtra. Next it will take place in Jharkhand and Rajasthan. After Maharashtra, Jharkhand and Rajasthan, we will reach West Bengal.”His remarks did not go down well with the ruling dispensation in West Bengal with the Trinamool Congress slamming the BJP for its attempt to topple elected government in Opposition-ruled states.“This shows the BJP’s mindset when it comes to respecting democratic norms in the country. They want to grab power by any means and that’s what they have planned for all opposition-ruled states. But Suvendu Adhikari is living in a fool’s paradise. In 2024, the BJP will go out of power,” said TMC state general secretary Kunal Ghosh.
With the Supreme Court extending the deadline for them to file a response to disqualification notices, the Shiv Sena’s rebel group led by Eknath Shinde is learnt to be strategising to approach the Governor, informing him of their decision to withdraw support from the MVA, and thereby, prompting a floor test.Highly placed sources said, “The Shinde faction is likely to approach Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari at Raj Bhawan, informing its decision to distance itself from Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government.”Claiming to have 50 plus MLAs in its fold, Shinde camp’s decision to step out of MVA would raise a question on the numbers with Uddhav Thackeray led MVA government, which could find it difficult to prove its majority on the floor of the house if the rebel MLAs were to stick together, the sources added.The development has also sparked worries in the Sena with a senior leader pointing out: “While the Apex court has given two weeks’ time to the rebels to respond to disqualification notices served by deputy speaker Narhari Zirwal, our plea for disallowing floor test till July 11 was not considered.”Shinde camp’s confidence stems from its belief that it holds two-third majority in the Shiv Sena. At present, it is claiming support of 39 MLAs out of total 55 MLAs of the Sena. Besides, there are over 10 MLAs from smaller parties/independents with them. Their total support base has risen to over 50, the Shinde camp has claimed.The total strength of the state legislative assembly is 288 members, which has gone down to 287 with the death of Sena MLA Ramesh Latke last month. The halfway mark to form the government is 144.With Congress’s 44, NCP’s 53 and Sena’s 16 legislators, the aggregate strength of the allies stands at 111 — 33 short of the halfway mark. The number of independents/smaller parties adds up to 29 members, of which around 11 are with Shinde camp. Sources say that even if all the remaining 19 were to align with MVA, the figure still won’t cross 130.“Minus Shinde faction, MVA finds itself confronting the battle for survival in Maharashtra,” the source said.Expressing his happiness after the SC order, Shinde said, “It is a victory for Balasaheb’s Hindutva. We have always maintained that we have not walked out of Sena. Our fight is for the self respect of Sena.”Sources in the Shinde faction said, “A lot of deliberations are underway on the next course of action. We are still fighting for the rights to lead the Sena. With majority members with us, Shinde’s leadership in the party’s legislative assembly cannot be divested. We always wanted Sena to walk away from the Congress and the NCP.”Shinde’s son Shrikant alleged that the disqualification notice to his father and 15 MLAs were sent by the deputy speaker under pressure.Meanwhile, the BJP, which convened its core committee meeting at the residence of opposition leader Devendra Fadnavis on Monday, has decided to adopt “wait and watch” strategy. State BJP president Chandrakant Patil said, “What is happening is an internal matter of Shiv Sena. We are also closely monitoring the developments.”Another senior leader, Sudhir Mungantiwar, said, “Shinde group is still not considering itself separate from Shiv Sena. At the same time, they have the support of a majority of members. So, we need to see how the situation evolves.”