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A Congress legislature party meeting will take place at 11 am at Fairmont hotel in Jaipur.

New Delhi:
A meeting of Rajasthan Congress MLAs this morning at the resort where they have been sequestered for over a week has kept up speculation that Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot is inclined towards a floor test. His challenger Sachin Pilot and his team of rebels have an important day in court today. The Rajasthan High Court is hearing a petition by Sachin Pilot and 18 other rebel Congress MLAs challenging disqualification notices served to them last week for “anti-party activities”.

Here’s your 10-point cheatsheet on the Rajasthan crisis:

  1. A Congress legislature party meeting will take place at 11 am at Fairmont hotel in Jaipur, where Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot has been guarding some 100 MLAs since last Monday. Ashok Gehlot considers himself safely placed with the support of 103 MLAs – two more than the majority mark in the 200-member Rajasthan assembly.

  2. The Rajasthan High Court’s decision on the rebels’ petition will have a significant bearing on the road ahead for Sachin Pilot.

  3. Yesterday, top lawyers on both sides argued over whether dissent is “anti-party” and whether the Speaker’s action on dissenters violates freedom of speech. Top lawyer Harish Salve, representing team Pilot, said, “Disqualification notice for inner party dissent is violation of freedom of speech”. 

  4. Abhishek Manu Singhvi, representing Speaker CP Joshi – who served the disqualification notices on the rebels — argued that team Pilot cannot approach the court before the Speaker takes action. “The rebels don’t have grounds to question the Speaker until the Speaker gives a decision. The Speaker and the assembly are not in the judicial purview of the court for now,” said Mr Singhvi.

  5. Sachin Pilot and other rebels were served notice for “anti-party activity” after they skipped two meetings of Congress MLAs called by Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot last week. The court observed during the arguments that the Congress cannot force MLAs to attend a party meeting.

  6. Team Pilot, which has been staying in two resorts near Delhi for over a week, has contested a constitutional rule that disqualifies MLAs if they “voluntarily” give up the membership of the party that they represent.

  7. Harish Salve, arguing on behalf of team Pilot, said a party member was “free to defy the party whip direction” outside the assembly and it did not constitute defection.  “Intra-party dissent, however shrill it may be, until the moment it goes to the extent of supporting another party, cannot be a ground to even start disqualification proceedings,” Mr Salve said.

  8. If Team Pilot is disqualified, it will bring down the majority mark in the assembly and Mr Gehlot can win even more easily. Team Pilot has 19 members, and along with the BJP’s 72, can give the government a close fight if it wins the case.

  9. Sachin Pilot broke ranks with his party after he was asked to answer questions in an investigation ordered by the Chief Minister into alleged bribing of Congress MLAs to switch loyalties and help bringing down the Gehlot government.

  10. While the Congress has repeatedly said the “doors are open” for Mr Pilot, who has in turn insisted that he is not going to the BJP, Mr Gehlot’s attacks have become increasingly caustic. Yesterday, Mr Gehlot said no one wanted to believe that “such an innocent face” could conspire against the party. He also used words like “nikamma” and “nakaara” – both variants of “worthless” – to described Mr Pilot.

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