News

Gehlot wards off immediate threat

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on July 13, 2020 Published on July 13, 2020

Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Ghelot with senior Congress leaders during a meeting with the party MLAs at his official residence in Jaipur on Monday.   -  Rohit Jain Paras

A file photo of Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot (R) and his deputy Sachin Pilot.   -  PTI

Congress secures 104 MLAs in a resort, warns Sachin Pilot of disciplinary action

In a series of deft political strokes throughout Monday, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot seemed to have staved off immediate danger to his Government by garnering support of about 104 MLAs, three more than the majority mark in the State Assembly. Before the MLAs were carted off to a resort to prevent “poaching”, a resolution of the Congress Legislature Party (CLP) pledged disciplinary action against Gehlot’s rival and rebel Sachin Pilot, limiting the chances of him returning to the Congress’s fold.

The Congress officially reached out to Pilot, whose attempts to wean away over 30 MLAs, the number required to topple the Gehlot Government in Rajasthan, did not seem to have materialised for the moment. “In the last 72 hours the central leadership have reached out to everyone. Sachin Pilot-ji is our senior leader and president of the state unit and we appeal to him come to the party meeting and discuss any pending issues that he may have,” said Congress’s central observer Randeep Singh Surjewala who was dispatched to Jaipur with senior leader Ajay Maken to broker peace between Gehlot and Pilot.

‘Disciplinary action’

However, Gehlot seemed to resist the reconciliation bid with the Congress Legislature Party (CLP) meeting pledging to take disciplinary action against “those office-bearers and members of the CLP who have either overtly or covertly participated in the undemocratic and conspiratorial efforts to destabilise the Congress Government”. Pilot is both an office-bearer of the Congress, being the president of the Pradesh Congress Committee, as well as a member of the CLP and Deputy Chief Minister of Rajasthan. The pledge to act against him was believed to be an indication that while the party is still negotiating with him, Pilot will have a tough time if he chooses to return to the Congress fold. For the moment, he lacks the strength to topple the Gehlot Government given the arithmetic in the State Assembly.

In the 200-member House, the BJP has 72 MLAs and the Congress 107. While the Congress believes Pilot to have weaned away about 16 MLAs Gehlot retains the support of two CPI(M), 1 Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) and several among the 13 independent MLAs to take Gehlot’s support to 104, three above the majority mark of 101 in the Assembly. Although the two MLAs of the Bharatiya Tribal Party too support the Congress, an official statement from the Tribal Party on Monday advised them to abstain from voting in case of a trust vote. This was interpreted as the BJP, which has asked Gehlot to prove his majority on the floor of the Assembly, to be working behind the scenes.

 

The Congress, in the meantime, accused the BJP of using the central agencies – Income Tax Department, Enforcement Directorate and the CBI – to browbeat the State legislators and arm-twist them into toppling the State Government. Surjewala cited Income Tax raids being conducted at the premises of Congress leaders Rajiv Arora, the Vice President of the state Congress unit and owner of the the Amrapali Jewellers and another leader, Dharmendra Rathore as definite evidence of the BJP’s desperation and browbeating of the Congress with the objective of toppling the Gehlot government.

“The Centre has three frontal organisations – the ED, the IT and the CBI – which they use to target political opponents and topple democratically elected governments. They also use money power which was the case till early morning today. When money power did not work, they have started using the threat of criminal investigations to target our legislators. But our government is safe and the BJP’s dirty tricks department will not succeed,” charged Surjewala.

Read also: Congress claims support of 109 MLAs in Rajasthan

 

Follow us on Telegram, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Linkedin. You can also download our Android App or IOS App.

Published on July 13, 2020
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor