Around 100 Congress MLAs from Rajasthan were moved to a resort in Jaisalmer on Friday, as the party attempts to keep its remaining flock in the state together for the upcoming Assembly session from August 14, ANI reported. The legislators moved from the Fairmont Hotel in Jaipur to Suryagarh in Jaisalmer.
Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot said the MLAs who were in Jaipur “were being harassed mentally” and so the party decided to move them to avoid “external pressure”.
CM calls out BJP’s alleged double standards
Gehlot also accused the Bharatiya Janata Party of hypocrisy after the saffron party criticised the Congress over the merger of six Bahujan Samaj Party MLAs.
Sandeep Yadav, Wajib Ali, Deepchand Kheria, Lakhan Meena, Jogendra Awana and Rajendra Gudha, who had contested and won the 2018 Assembly elections on Bahujan Samaj Party tickets, tied up with the Congress in September last year. The defection of the legislators to the Congress had been a boost for the Ashok Gehlot government’s numbers. The Bahujan Samaj Party on Wednesday moved the Rajasthan High Court challenging this merger.
Following BJP’s recent criticisms of the merger, Gehlot reminded the party that six Telugu Desam Party Rajya Sabha MPs from Andhra Pradesh had joined the BJP last year.
“The BJP got four MPs of TDP merged with it overnight in Rajya Sabha. That merger is right and the merger of six MLAs with the Congress in Rajasthan is wrong,” Gehlot said in a tweet. He also wondered what happened to the BJP’s “chaal-charitra-chehra”, or conduct and character, at that time?
“The merger can take place with 2/3 majority,” Gehlot had said on Thursday, according to PTI. “Here, all the six MLAs had merged so therefore Mayawati’s complaint is not justified because it was not about two MLAs, it was about all the MLAs.”
He had added: “This is the game of BJP which the entire country is watching. Some of our colleagues are involved in this.”
Gehlot has said he will seek a floor test in the Assembly after the session begins. “The floor test will happen, we are going to the Assembly,” Gehlot had said on Thursday. “The Assembly’s Business Advisory Committee decides this.”
Gehlot also claimed that the “price of horse-trading” in Rajasthan has increased. “After the assembly session was announced last night, the rates of horse trading have increased,” Gehlot said. “Earlier, the first instalment was of Rs 10 crore and second was of Rs 15 crore. Now it has become unlimited and all know who is doing horse-trading.”
After several rejections, Governor Kalraj Mishra had finally accept Gehlot’s fourth proposal for an Assembly session on Wednesday. Gehlot agreed to hold the Assembly session from August 14 instead of his preferred July 31 date. Following the clearing of his proposal, Gehlot claimed that he could prove a majority at any time, whether in “21 days or 31 days”.
Gehlot has repeatedly accused his former deputy Sachin Pilot of colluding with the Bharatiya Janata Party to topple his government. After an open revolt by Pilot and the legislators on his side, the Congress is left with 107 MLAs in the Rajasthan Assembly – including the six Bahujan Samaj Party turncoats. The majority mark in the 200-member House is 101.
The Pilot camp claims it has 30 legislators on its side. So far, only 19 have declared their support to Pilot. However, the Gehlot camp may be compromised by six former Bahujan Samaj Party legislators, who defected to the Congress last September, but are now facing a court case filed by an enraged party chief Mayawati, who has also threatened to throw them out if they vote for the Congress.
The Rajasthan chief minister also accused Mayawati of playing into the BJP’s hands.
Gehlot has also said that he wants the dissident MLAs to attend the Assembly session. On Thursday, an MLA from the Pilot camp said they will attend the session.
Rajasthan BJP chief calls for Speaker’s resignation
Meanwhile, Rajasthan BJP President Satish Poonia demanded that Assembly Speaker CP Joshi resign from his post, the Hindustan Times reported on Friday. Poonia said that a viral video had exposed his political leanings towards the Congress.
In the video, Joshi is purportedly heard telling Chief Minister Gehlot’s son Vaibhav Gehlot that if 30 legislators would have quit, the crisis would have deepened. He said the situation was tough and implied that the Gehlot-led government was likely to fall.
Poonia alleged that the video has sullied the reputation of the officer of the Speaker. He also asked Joshi to come clean about it. “It is inappropriate for him to hold on to the post,” Poonia said. “He needs to maintain the dignity and neutrality of the House and must step down on moral grounds.”