BJP says Ashok Gehlot govt in minority, accuses it of intimidating MLAs
The Rajasthan unit of the BJP is in a wait and watch mode not wanting to muddy its hands in the ongoing political crisis that has rocked the Congress government of Ashok Gehlot in the state.
The BJP claims that the government is in a minority but says it will not seek a floor test.
Leader of opposition in the assembly Gulab Chand Kataria said Wednesday it was for the Congress government or the rebel MLAs who are supporting former deputy CM Sachin Pilot to seek a floor test.
On the notice issued by the assembly Speaker to the 19 MLAs who are supporting Pilot, Kataria said the assembly secretariat had no locus standi in the matter.
“Who attends or does not attend a party meet is not in the assembly secretariat. It is for the party to decide. The assembly cannot issue notices to MLAs. Such notices will be struck down by the courts,” he said.
He also played down the absence of former CM Vasundhara Raje from meetings of the BJP.
“I am in touch with her. She was supposed to come today for a meeting. But since Sachin Pilot cancelled his press conference, we also put off our meeting. After Pilot clears his future course of action, we will hold a meeting,” Kataria said.
Earlier in the day, Pilot ruled out joining the BJP
Kataria said all MLAs have been asked to be available on phone as they could be called to Jaipur on short notice.
State BJP president Satish Poonia said the government is trying to intimidate MLAs and the notice is an attempt to put the MLAs under pressure.
“The notice is laughable... If some action takes place within the house then a whip is issued. But if some MLAs skip a party meeting but are held in a resort that cannot be the basis for a notice by the Speaker,” he said.
He said the Congress’s aim was to get these MLAs disqualified and then call for an assembly session. “The government and the Speaker are working in tandem and the effort is to kill democratic traditions.”
Poonia said the government was resorting to strong-arm tactics to scare the legislators. “They talk of democracy but they are threatening MLAs using the SOG and ACB and the notice shows that their intentions are suspect.”
Poonia cited a video circulated by a BTP MLA who said he was stopped by police who snatched his car keys and held him hostage for several hours.
“If they have the numbers then why are all these actions being taken? Why are the MLAs under lockdown in a resort?” he asked.
Poonia said Congress has 107 MLAs of which about 20 are with Pilot which brings down the figure to 87 which is short of the majority mark of 101. He said smaller parties which supported Congress in the Rajya Sabha are not with them any longer.
“BTP has said it will remain neutral, one of two CPI (M) MLAs is not supporting Congress. They had made 13 independents as associate members of which three have jumped ship. So they are still short of majority.”
Poonia said the BJP has also given a petition to the Speaker some months back challenging the merger of the six BSP MLAs with the Congress. Poonia said the Speaker has not taken a decision on that.
“The petition is pending with the Speaker but no decision has been taken yet. If he had given a decision, we would have appealed in court, if required,” he said.