Jaipur: In a significant political development in the Rajasthan unit of the Congress, the Ashok Gehlot government has decided to withdraw its special leave petition (SLP) in the Supreme Court pertaining to the disqualification of the MLAs who rebelled against it last year, including former deputy chief minister Sachin Pilot.
According to an Indian Express report, Congress chief whip Mahesh Joshi has written a letter to his advocate Varun Chopra stating, “I do not wish to pursue the instant Special Leave Petition. You are hereby instructed to move an appropriate application to withdraw the aforesaid SLP.”
Later, Chopra informed the Supreme Court registrar about Joshi’s decision.
This move comes as a surprise, as signs hinted that hostilities may have resumed between Gehlot and Pilot. Just a few days ago, Pilot had organised a kisan mahapanchayat where his camp MLAs had indirectly mentioned that Gehlot attained the top post even though it was Pilot who brought the party to power in the assembly polls with his hard work.
Further, Pilot was sidelined during Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s visit. A major reason for it was speculated to be Pilot holding the kisan mahapanchayats all by himself ahead of Gandhi’s rally in the state.
However, the present move doesn’t indicate a complete withdrawal of the disqualification petition against the rebel MLAs as there are two petitions, one filed by the assembly speaker C.P. Joshi and the other by chief whip Mahesh Joshi.
While Mahesh Joshi is all set to withdraw his petition, C.P. Joshi’s petition is still active.
What was the 2020 political crisis in Rajasthan all about?
In 2020, Gehlot alleged that attempts were made to topple his government. Later, an FIR was
filed against two men whose calls were intercepted and their conversations highlighted that Pilot was aiming to be the chief minister.
Over this, the Special Operations Group (SOG) of the state police served a notice to Pilot asking him to give his statement in the matter. Pilot rebelled, accusing Gehlot of sidelining him in the state administration despite holding the number two position.
He then claimed to have the support of 30 MLAs. Gehlot called a quick Congress Legislative Party (CLP) meetings, but about 19 of the Pilot camp MLAs skipped these meetings.
Taking this as a ground for disqualification of the rebel MLAs, the Gehlot government through its chief whip Mahesh Joshi submitted a disqualification petition to speaker C.P. Joshi.
Subsequently, the state assembly secretariat had issued notices to these MLAs, asking their written submissions within three days or face an ex-parte action.
The rebel MLAs moved to the Rajasthan high court stating that skipping a party meeting could not be used as a ground for disqualification.
The Rajasthan high court on July 24 last year ordered the speaker not to conduct disqualification proceedings against the rebel MLAs.
The speaker and chief whip had filed separate SLPs in the Supreme Court against the July 24 high court order.