Court rejects Congress plea to disqualify Alpesh
The Gujarat High Court on Tuesday dismissed a writ petition filed by the Congress seeking a directive to disqualify rebel legislator Alpesh Thakor, who had quit in the run-up to the April-May Lok Sabha elections, and ruled that the decision was better left to the Assembly Speaker.
The Congress, through its chief whip in the Assembly Ashwin Kotwal, had filed the petition seeking a directive from the court to Speaker Rajendra Trivedi to decide on its April 25 submission to disqualify the maverick MLA, who had resigned from all posts of the party on April 10.
Setting aside the petition, a division bench of Justice S.R. Brahmbhatt and Justice A.P. Thaker ruled that since the Speaker was seized of the matter and aware of the situation, there was no need for any interference from the court.
To the Congress' submission that the High Court direct the Speaker to take a decision on the party's representation to disqualify Thakor in a certain time frame, the division bench observed that it could not give such instructions to the Speaker.
The Opposition party had also sought a direction that Thakor, an MLA from Radhanpur from North Gujarat, be restrained from functioning as a legislator till the Speaker decided on his disqualification. The court rejected this also.
Besides the monsoon session of the State Assembly which began on Tuesday, the Congress had in mind the July 5 Rajya Sabha elections to two seats, vacated by Union ministers Amit Shah and Smriti Irani after they were elected to the Lok Sabha. The party was aiming to prevent Thakor from possibly cross-voting against its candidates.
Thakor had earlier filed an affidavit in the case that he had only resigned from all posts of the Congress and not as its primary member, and so could not be disqualified as an MLA. He had also challenged the party to produce his letter quitting from the party.
In the meantime, the Congress has issued a whip to all its legislators, including Alpesh Thakor, to vote in favour of the party's two candidates in the Rajya Sabha elections slated to take place on July 5.
Since polling for both the seats would be held separately as decided by the Election Commission, the Congress would in any case lose both the seats as all MLAs would exercise their first preference votes twice.
The BJP, with its numerical strength of 100, as against 71 of the Congress, would thus win both seats. If the polls were held together, as the Congress had demanded before the Election Commission and later the Supreme Court, it would have won one seat and the ruling party one. IANS