Ashok Gehlot slams BSP, says MLAs’ merger not illegal
Speaking to reporters outside the Fairmont Hotel on the outskirts of Jaipur — where legislators loyal to him have are camping — he also accused the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) of creating “unnecessary fuss” over its six legislators merging with the Congress in 2019.Updated: Jul 31, 2020 03:21 IST
Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot said on Thursday money offered to legislators to switch sides has increased sharply after the announcement of the assembly session from August 14.
Speaking to reporters outside the Fairmont Hotel on the outskirts of Jaipur — where legislators loyal to him have are camping — he also accused the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) of creating “unnecessary fuss” over its six legislators merging with the Congress in 2019.
“Mayawati’s compliant is not justified as all six MLAs joined the Congress. I believe she is making statements on the directions of the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party),” Gehlot said.
Gehlot also pointed to the law allowing two-thirds of the members of the legislature party to join another political party or form a separate party, stressing that the move by all six BSP MLAs to merge with the Congress is not illegal.
He alleged that the Centre’s ruling BJP is misusing the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Enforcement Directorate (ED) and the income tax department to “threaten all”.
“Mayawati is also fearing and making statements under pressure,” Gehlot said.
Gehlot’s remarks came at a time when ED has summoned his brother, Agrasain Gehlot, to appear before it in Delhi in connection with its probe into alleged money laundering in the export of fertilizers.
BSP state president Bhagwan Singh Baba, however, argued that the merger of the six MLAs who won on the party ticket in 2018 was illegal, reiterating that a national party cannot be merged at state level without the approval of party chief.
Mayawati has earlier said the BSP has decided to “teach a lesson” to the Congress over the “unconstitutional” merger. And her party has approached the judiciary over the issue.
“The CM allegations are baseless. The BSP chief had conveyed her annoyance twice as Gehlot poached our MLAs. It’s not the first time,” Baba said, referring to the 2008 incident when, just like last year’s events, all six legislators of the BSP defected to the Congress.
Outside the Fairmont Hotel, Gehlot also said the “horse-trading rate” increased after the assembly session from August 14 was announced by the governor on Wednesday night, pointing to a “conspiracy”.
“...Earlier, the first instalment was of Rs 10 crore and second was of Rs 15 crore. Now, it has become unlimited and all know who is doing horse-trading,” he said, without naming anyone.
Late at night, the Congress decided to shift MLAs backing Gehlot from Fairmont Hotel to some place else on Friday, according to party leaders aware of the developments. Earlier in the day, a Congress Legislature Party (CLP) meeting decided that the MLAs will stay put at the hotel till the beginning of the assembly session. The Gehlot camp is believed to have the support of 101 MLAs (though this does not include speaker CP Joshi).
Confident of its numbers in the assembly, the Congress party is pushing for a floor test in the assembly in the wake of a power tussle between Gehlot and former deputy chief minister Sachin Pilot, who is believed to have the backing of 18 rebel Congress MLAs.
While Gehlot alleges that the BJP is trying to dislodge his government, the state’s opposition party denies the charge.
“The BJP has no involvement in this entire issue and it is the result of weak national leadership,” party spokesperson Mukesh Pareek said, while also pointing to infighting in the state unit of the Congress.
On the allegations of horse-trading, he said Gehlot feels that his position is slipping and, hence, he is making “baseless allegations” to misguide the people.