Ashok Gehlot could call for floor test despite the return of Sachin Pilot camp | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Ashok Gehlot could call for floor test despite the return of Sachin Pilot camp

Hindustan Times, new Delhi/Jaipur | ByAurangzeb Naqshbandi and Sachin Saini, New Delhi/jaipur:
Aug 13, 2020 01:00 AM IST

Even though the 19 MLAs, including now-dismissed deputy chief minister Sachin Pilot, have returned to the Congress fold, the party thinks that a floor test is the only way to send across a message of unity after a tumultuous month marked by an intense tussle that triggered political uncertainty in the western state.

Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot is likely to opt for a floor test in the upcoming assembly session despite a truce announced by 19 dissident Congress legislators, whose rebellion threatened the government’s stability over the past month, at least three party leaders aware of the development said on Wednesday.

In an interview with HT, published on Wednesday, chief minister Gehlot did not rule out a floor test, saying a decision will be taken once the assembly session begins on August 14.(PTI)
In an interview with HT, published on Wednesday, chief minister Gehlot did not rule out a floor test, saying a decision will be taken once the assembly session begins on August 14.(PTI)

Even though the 19 MLAs, including now-dismissed deputy chief minister Sachin Pilot, have returned to the Congress fold, the party thinks that a floor test is the only way to send across a message of unity after a tumultuous month marked by an intense tussle that triggered political uncertainty in the western state.

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It will also give some time to Gehlot to put his house in order since a floor test cannot be repeated during a session, one of the leaders cited above said. He said the practice is that if a government survives a trust vote, nothing is likely to change in the next six months.

“The rule is that once you move a motion in a particular session, you cannot bring in that subject again in the same session. You can do so in the next session,” constitutional expert PDT Achary explained.

In an interview with HT, published on Wednesday, chief minister Gehlot did not rule out a floor test, saying a decision will be taken once the assembly session begins on August 14.

“No doubt, a floor test is the only solution and we can go for it any opportune time. We will prove our majority on the floor of the House,” the first Congress leader said, requesting anonymity.

“We will get a breather...to address all the issues raised by party leaders and legislators from both sides,” he added, referring to the Gehlot and Pilot camps.

A three-member All India Congress Committee (AICC) panel formed to look into grievances of Pilot and the rebel legislators is likely to submit its report by then.

The Rajasthan crisis appeared to have come to an end after a meeting between Pilot and former Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Monday. Later that night, the party announced the setting up of the panel to look into issues raised by the 42-year-old Pilot and the 18 rebel legislators, who questioned Gehlot’s style of functioning. Three independents MLAs, too, backed Pilot.

With Pilot’s return, the Congress alone has 107 legislators in the 200-member assembly, where the simple majority is 101. It also appears to have the support of all 13 independents, with the three from the Pilot camp pledging their support to Gehlot, and of five MLAs from different parties. The BJP and its ally Rashtriya Loktrantrik Party have 75 seats.

A second Congress functionary, who is monitoring the developments in Rajasthan, said the government can move the trust vote any time in the assembly. The leader, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the strategy for the session will be finalised on Thursday.

A third Congress leader said a floor test was important to prove a point. “The entire political crisis was witnessed by the public. A message is needed to be sent that the government is safe and promises made will be fulfilled,” he said. He reiterated the Congress’s allegations that the BJP was trying to destabilise the state government.

The BJP said taking a call on a floor test was an “internal issue” of the Congress. “The BJP neither asked and nor will ask for floor test. Let them do whatever they want to do,” BJP legislator and spokesperson Ram Lal Sharma said.

Political analyst Narayan Bareth said the Congress did not want to take any risk. “The ruling party is still keeping an eye on the rebels...They would also want to convey to the rebels that they aren’t dependent on them,” Bareth said.

Despite the truce, there are indications of resentment among a section in the Congress.

Legislators backing Gehlot displayed their anger at a Congress Legislature Party (CLP) meeting in Jaisalmer over the return of Pilot and his supporters.

A large section of legislators were vocal against Pilot, and questioned how the Congress could take the dissidents back after their rebellion threatened the government, a party leader present in the meeting said.

On Wednesday, Gehlot said it was natural for legislators backing him to be upset. “The way this episode happened, they had to stay in hotels. But I told them that in the interest of the country, state, its people and for saving democracy, sometimes we have to bear,” he said.

The MLAs supporting Gehlot, meanwhile, returned to a hotel on the outskirts of Jaipur on Wednesday. On July 13, they were taken there. And on July 31, they were shifted to a resort in Jaisalmer.

They are expected to stay at Fairmont Hotel near Jaipur till the session begins. The rebel lawmakers — all of them have returned to the state — did not visit the hotel on Wednesday.

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