India

"Reunited" Congress vs BJP In Rajasthan Test Of Strength Today: 10 Facts

Ashok Gehlot has the support of 125 MLAs with the return of Sachin Pilot.

Jaipur: Ashok Gehlot will go for a trust vote in the special assembly session that began today, a day after his patch-up with sacked deputy Sachin Pilot, who ended his month-long rebellion against the Rajasthan Chief Minister earlier this week. The Congress's trust vote move is a counter to the opposition BJP's plan to ask for a no-confidence motion against the Gehlot government, a surprise decision that, sources say, is largely symbolic. For Mr Gehlot, however, establishing a majority is a way of securing his government for at least six months. Just before the session started, he tweeted: "As the Legislative Assembly session begins today, It would be the victory of the people of #Rajasthan and the unity of our Congress MLAs, it would be a victory of truth: Satyamev Jayate."

Here's your 10-point cheatsheet to this big story:

  1. Sachin Pilot, who had rebelled against Ashok Gehlot in early July, was welcomed back with a handshake by the Chief Minister at his home in Jaipur. The two leaders smiled for the cameras and flashed victory signs before they sat together for a meeting of Congress MLAs, the first since the return of 19 rebels including Mr Pilot.

  2. Soon after the meeting, the Congress announced that the Gehlot government would prove its majority in the assembly with a trust vote.

  3. Mr Gehlot has the support of 125 MLAs, far more than the majority-mark of 101 in the 200-member Rajasthan assembly. Before the rebels returned, he had 102. He made it a point to let the rebels know that he would have won even without their support.

  4. "What happened, let us put it behind us. We would have proved our majority even without these 19 MLAs, but that would not have given us any joy. Kyonki apne toh apne hi hote hain (family is family)," Mr Gehlot said.

  5. The Chief Minister's Confidence Motion supersedes any other motion in the house, so BJP's no-confidence vote may not be accepted. The BJP has 72 MLAs and the support of three more, hardly enough to challenge Mr Gehlot on the floor of the house. The party does not expect any change of heart from Team Pilot either.

  6. Sources say the BJP's strategy is to force a discussion in the assembly to corner the Gehlot government on various issues, including the coronavirus crisis. The plan is also to bring out the rift within the Congress in the assembly. The party believes the Congress truce is only temporary.

  7. Soon after the Congress announced its truce with 19 rebels, the BJP had declared that it was "reworking its strategy". A meeting on Tuesday was also cancelled. That meeting took place on Thursday, and top leaders, including BJP's Rajasthan powerhouse Vasundhara Raje attended it.

  8. With the numbers firmly on his side, Mr Gehlot no longer has to worry about the status of six MLAs who shifted from Mayawati's Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) to the Congress.

  9. The BSP has ordered the MLAs to vote against the Congress government and has warned of action if they defy the whip. The MLAs can participate in the vote after the Supreme Court refused to intervene on a BJP MLA's petition for a temporary freeze on the merger.

  10. BSP chief Mayawati had last month said that she was looking to teach Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot a "a lesson" for "theft of MLAs". But she has been denied her moment of revenge for now, with Team Pilot's return.