Even as the Covid-19 pandemic engulfs the state of Rajasthan, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the main opposition party in Rajasthan, explores chances to relaunch "Operation Lotus" to bring down the government of Ashok Gehlot.
Accusing BJP of indulging in horse-trading, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot said the opposition now wants to topple the state government on the lines of Madhya Pradesh. However, the Rajasthan Congress has moved its 90 MLAs to Shiv Vilas resort on the Delhi-Jaipur highway, apprehending poaching attempts ahead of the Rajya Sabha elections on June 19. Both the Congress and independents are camping there since Wednesday (June 10) evening.
Key points on Rajasthan poaching drama
- Ashok Gehlot has alleged that BJP is offering Rs 25 crore to Congress MLAs, asking them to switch sides. "One of our MLAs was offered Rs 25 crore, 10 crore in advance and 15 crore later as horse trading, but he informed us on time. We have been tipped that a huge cash amount has been transferred from Delhi to Jaipur recently which has been informed to us by investigative agencies," the Rajasthan CM said.
- Another state to slip out of Congress's hand? Gehlot's comments came hours after Congress moved its MLAs to the resort for a closed-door meeting, which was also attended by top party brass from the national capital, including veteran leader Randeep Surjewala. The progress was also seen as an effort by the Congress to protect its flock of horse-trading.
- More than 50 security forces have been posted in civilian clothes outside the resort as the MLAs continue to be stationed at a resort in Jaipur.
- Meanwhile, Mahesh Joshi, the senior Congress leader and the Chief Whip of the Rajasthan assembly, has written to the chief of the state's Anti-Corruption Bureau: "Like Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Karnataka, in Rajasthan, our MLAs and independents supporting us are being lured in an attempt to destablise a democratically elected government, which is completely devoted to the service of people." "This despicable attempt is not only against democratic values but also against people's expectations. This is illegal, unethical, and condemnable and invites legal action. Strict action should be taken against those involved in such despicable crimes who are trying to lure people's representatives and destabilise the government," the letter further stated.
- On June 19, Rajya Sabha polls for 24 seats are scheduled to be held. Out of these 24 seats, three are in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and four are in Gujarat, amongst others. Two of them are supposed to go to Congress and one to the BJP. However, the BJP has stirred political waters by putting up two candidates rather than one. To win, per contestant needs 51 first preference votes.
- The Congress has 107 MLAs, including six from Mayawati's Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), who switched camps last year. It also has the support of 12 independent MLAs. The BJP has 72 MLAs and the support of six more from partners and independents.
- Meanwhile, CM Gehlot has also attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi and said that the Rajya Sabha elections were postponed under pressure from the BJP because the party could not poach MLAs in Rajasthan and Gujarat. "Modi government pressurised Election Commission to postpone the election as MLAs horse-trading had not been done in Rajasthan and Gujarat by then."
- Gehlot said that he is proud to be the chief minister of the state where their MLAs cannot be bought. Gehlot said the Congress workers and independents will meet today again as party candidate for Rajya Sabha, KC Venugopal will be visiting Jaipur. Also, Rajasthan Congress in-charge Avinash Pandey will be there during the meeting.
- BJP pushes Congress into crisis - Meanwhile, BJP state president Satish Poonia termed this as propaganda made by the Congress party. He openly challenges them to come out with proof confirming their allegation.
- Former Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia changed sides and joined BJP along with a bunch of Madhya Pradesh MLAs in March this year, toppling the Congress government helmed by Kamal Nath. Now, Ashok Gehlot seems to be fearing a similar fate in Rajasthan. In July 2019, Congress similarly lost power to the BJP in Karnataka, the state it was ruling in alliance with HD Kumaraswamy, after multiple exits.
Covid-19 wrap in Rajasthan
As many as 51 coronavirus positive cases and 5 deaths in Rajasthan were reported till June 11 (Thursday) morning. Twenty-seven people have recovered from the disease while 26 others were discharged during this period.
According to the Rajasthan health department:
- Total cases 11,651
- Deaths 264
- Cured/Recovered 8,596
- Discharged 8,221