Cong thwarted BJP’s bid to topple Raj govt: Ashok Gehlot
Ashok Gehlot’s allegations came after the Rajasthan police’s Special Operation Group said it has arrested BJP members Bharat Malani and Ashok Singh for allegedly trying to topple the government by offering Rs 20-25 crore bribe each to unspecified legislators.Updated: Jul 12, 2020 00:33 IST
Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot on Saturday said the Congress has thwarted “a brazen attempt” to topple his government while accusing the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of trying to “buy legislators like goats” for the purpose amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
His allegations came after the Rajasthan police’s Special Operation Group said it has arrested BJP members Bharat Malani and Ashok Singh for allegedly trying to topple the government by offering Rs 20-25 crore bribe each to unspecified legislators. A First Information Report (FIR) was filed against the two under Indian Penal Code’s sections related to sedition and criminal conspiracy on Friday. The complaint is based on a purported conservation between the two over the phone. According to the FIR, the attempts to topple the government started last month.
The Congress has 107 members in the 200-member House and also enjoys the support of 18 other lawmakers. The half-way mark in the assembly is 100; the BJP has 72 legislators.
“BJP leaders tried to topple the Rajasthan government when the entire administration was busy tackling the coronavirus outbreak. When we all should have been focused on fighting the virus, the ministers, legislators, and leaders had to divert their attention towards saving the government,” Gehlot said at a virtual press conference.
Rajasthan BJP chief Satish Poonia dismissed Gehlot’s allegations and said they were a result of infighting within the Congress. “This entire strategy has been worked out by the chief minister to prevent factionalism from coming out in the open.”
His reference is to the uneasy relationship between Gehlot and his deputy Sachin Pilot.
Gehlot said Rajasthan did not have a tradition of horse trading and added BJP leaders have become brazen and were promising Rs 10-15 crore to lawmakers to switch allegiances to destabilise his government. “The BJP leaders have crossed limits of shamelessness. ...there are markets, where goats are sold...like that the BJP is trying to buy [lawmakers]...,” he said.
Gehlot alleged the BJP succeeded in buying seven Congress lawmakers in Gujarat to win two Rajya Sabha seats last month. “But we thwarted their similar game plan in Rajasthan and, with all our supporters, we won two [Rajya Sabha] seats and taught them a lesson. But they are shameless and are still trying their machinations,” he said.
Seven Congress lawmakers resigned from the Gujarat assembly and brought down the party’s tally in the 182-member House to 66 in the run-up to the June 19 elections to four Rajya Sabha seats from the state.
Seventeen lawmakers quit to bring down the Janata Dal (Secular)-Congress coalition government in Karnataka last year and paved the way for BJP’s return to power. The BJP returned to power in Madhya Pradesh as well in March after 22 lawmakers quit and toppled the state’s Congress government.
Gehlot insisted there was no threat to his government and added it will complete its full term in 2023. He attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union home minister Amit Shah, saying they cannot tolerate him or his government. Gehlot said the current BJP is different from when Atal Behari Vajpayee was the Prime Minister between 1998 and 2004. “During Vajpayee’s time, this was not the case. But since 2014, the arrogance in the BJP has come out in the open. They are dividing people on religious and caste lines and murdering democracy. Their thinking is fascist.”
Poonia said Gehlot “ was only trying to hide the divide and friction within the Congress and is using BJP as a scapegoat which is not justified.” He also accused the CM for crossing the limits of political decency by using derogatory words for the legislators and BJP’s central leaders.
Poonia said Gehlot called lawmakers, goats and BJP leaders, shameless. “This has never happened in Rajasthan’s politics,” Poonia said at a virtual press conference.