BJP in wait-and-see mode for next move in Himachal

BJP will wait to see if the Himachal Pradesh High Court will stay disqualification of six Congress MLAs before making its next political move in HP. The Congress government which had a comfortable majority was destabilised after six ‘rebel MLAs’ and three Independent legislators who supported the government switched sides during the recent Rajya Sabha polls.

Speaker Kuldeep Singh Pathania disqualified the six rebel Congress MLAs on Thursday for not participating in the assembly proceedings as per party whip when the state budget was passed. The Sukhu government, however, passed the budget by a voice vote after suspending 15 BJP MLAs from the assembly for the day and the remaining BJP MLAs walked out.

BJP believes that it would be meaningless to bring a no-confidence motion before a HC decision on stay as the government has a majority after disqualification of the six MLAs. The situation could change if HC stays the Speaker’s decision to disqualify the six rebel MLAs. The anti-defection law has bestowed on the Speaker the power to disqualify a legislator, which however can be challenged in a constitutional court on grounds of legality of the decision.

BJP will demand the governor to order the government to undertake a floor test if the MLAs manage to get a stay on the operation of the Speaker’s disqualification order. Although BJP had initially claimed that it had no role in the Congress ‘rebellion’ against fielding of an ‘outsider’ in the Rajya Sabha elections, the party showed its solidarity with the six on Thursday. “We have extended support to them on the issues they raised, and they are with us,” leader of opposition Jairam Thakur told journalists in Shimla.

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Roy Walsh

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