Sachin Pilot
Sachin Pilot
ANI

The last word on Sachin Pilot’s rebellion against Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot is yet to be spoken. Despite the Speaker, C P Joshi, sending show-cause notices to the sacked deputy chief minister and some of his loyal MLAs, threatening to disqualify them under the anti-defection law, Pilot appeared undeterred. Given the supersonic speed with which Joshi had acted on the plea of a Congress legislator against the rebel party MLAs, in a surprise move Pilot on Thursday approached the Rajasthan High Court challenging his action. Senior Supreme court lawyer Harish Salve, appearing for Pilot, while seeking quashing of the show-cause notice argued that not attending the Congress Legislature Party did not attract the provisions of the anti-defection law. The law was meant for actions within the Assembly, not outside. Also, expressing dissent against the incumbent leadership was not an act of indiscipline. If it was so, it would be anti-democratic and lead to autocracy. Widening the scope of the petition, Salve said that he intended to challenge the rules made by the Assembly for disqualifying members under the anti-defection law. This led the High Court judge hearing the case to refer it to a two-member bench since a challenge to the rules, by-rules and procedures under the legislator’s disqualification law could be heard by a division bench only. Notably, Pilot’s lawyer highlighted the supersonic hurry in sending show-cause notice to him and others, while it took Joshi over 14 months to take note of a petition by a senior BSP leader against six of the party MLAs who in defiance of the party whip supported the Gehlot Government. Meanwhile, Pilot yet again asserted that he was not joining the BJP, alleging that Gehlot had deliberately spread the canard to deflect his criticism of his functioning. The intervention of the Speaker in the Gehlot-Pilot showdown reflected the CM’s anxiety about his numbers in the Assembly in case of a floor test. Disqualifying Pilot and his loyal MLAs would ensure a win for the beleaguered government while it was risky to allow the rebels to participate in the vote. However, Pilot’s challenge in the High Court against the Speaker’s notice would delay the test of strength. Meanwhile, governance in the State, grappling with the coronavirus like the rest of the country, would receive scant attention, if any at all since Gehlot and his ministers would be engrossed full time politicking for survival.

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