Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot on Saturday said that he will welcome Sachin Pilot and other dissident Congress legislators back to his government if the party’s high command forgives them, PTI reported.
“We have no quarrel with anyone,” Gehlot said. “In a democracy, fights happen over ideology, policies and programmes and not for toppling a government. If the party high command forgives them [rebel MLAs], I will embrace them.”
Gehlot hit out at the Bharatiya Janata Party over its alleged attempts to oust his government in the state and said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi must stop that. “The rates of horse-trading have gone up,” Gehlot said. “Narendra Modi is the prime minister of this country. People have given him a chance to be their leader twice. People trust him. He must put an end to the tamasha that is happening in Rajasthan.”
The chief minister also claimed that the Union Ministry of Home Affairs had engaged in horse-trading, The Mint reported. “The entire Ministry of Home Affairs is engaged in this work,” he alleged. “Many ministers are engaged like Dharmendra Pradhan, Piyush Goyal. There are many secrets too.”
Gehlot had on Friday taken nearly 100 legislators to a resort in Jaisalmer. He alleged that the MLAs “were being harassed mentally” and so the party decided to move them to avoid “external pressure”.
On Thursday, Gehlot had said that he will seek a confidence vote at the Assembly session scheduled on August 14 and claimed that the “rates of horse trading” of legislators had been increased ahead of the session.
After several rejections, Governor Kalraj Mishra finally accepted Gehlot’s fourth proposal for an Assembly session on Wednesday. He agreed to hold the Assembly session from August 14. Gehlot, meanwhile, claimed that he could prove a majority at any time, whether in “21 days or 31 days”.
Gehlot has repeatedly accused Pilot of colluding with the BJP 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 the six former BSP 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 sack them if they vote for the Congress.