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Pilot got four-day breather

RAJSTHAN rebel Congress MLAs led by Sachin Pilot got some relief from HC which says they cannot be disqualified from the Rajasthan Assembly till 5.30 pm on Tuesday.

The state High Court will resume hearing on Monday after rival lawyers – Harish Salve for the Pilot camp and Abhishek Singhvi for the Congress – today slogged it out in the court. The counsel for the Speaker assured the court that no order shall be passed on the notice till 5.30 pm on Tuesday.

Salve questioned the constitutional validity of the disqualification notices Speaker CP Joshi issued to 19 rebel MLAs under the anti-defection law while Singhvi termed the case premature. The dissidents are saying that dissent against the CM is part of free speech and does not constitute defection, and also that the whip is valid only for proceedings in the Assembly, not at some hotel. The adjournment gives dissidents time to strategise even as the Rajasthan police today registered two cases on a Congress complaint accusing two of its MLAs and Union Minister Gajendra Shekhawat of horse-trading and a conspiracy to dislodge the Ashok Gehlot-led state government.

Congress leader Randeep Surjewala cited audio-taped conversations today to allege “horse-trading” by party MLAs Bhanwarlal Sharma and Vishvendra Singh and Union minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, who dismissed the charges. The Congress also suspended Sharma and Singh from its primary membership.
As the bitter factional war in the Rajasthan Congress played itself out on streets, strategists agreed that the legal outcome would determine the future course. All eyes are now on the court. If Pilot can ward off the disqualification threat, the Gehlot government would remain on tenterhooks faced with prospects of a trust vote. Gehlot claims he has the support of 102 MLAs in a House where 101 is the majority mark. The Congress said its doors for Pilot were still open.

Union Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat has rejected the Congress’ allegation based on some audio clips that he was part of a conspiracy to topple the Gehlot government. “This is not my voice…. Let there be an investigation,” the senior BJP leader told the media after the Congress demanded his arrest.

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