Rajasthan tussle takes turn as BJP herds MLAs fearing poaching by crisis-hit Congress
Numbers in Rajasthan assembly are precariously poised at the moment and even a small shift can tilt the balance either way.Updated: Aug 08, 2020 16:07 IST
The Bharatiya Janata Party in Rajasthan has started herding its MLAs, especially those from tribal areas, amid fear of poaching by the Congress for the assembly session starting from August 14, party leaders said. Some MLAs have been sent to Gujarat.
The BJP leaders said they have evidence that the Congress was trying to approach its legislators, especially in the tribal belt of Mewar in southern Rajasthan, to win their support. The Congress denied these charges.
“We had input that the Congress was approaching our legislators in the Udaipur division through administrative officers and other influential people of the area so we decided that they should all be at one place where they can be protected,” said state BJP president Satish Poonia.
“We will have a meeting of the legislature party 2-3 days before the Assembly session. Before that some MLAs said they want to visit Somnath temple so we have allowed them to go,” he added.
Party insiders said the effort to approach “weak legislators”, especially those elected from seats reserved for the scheduled tribes (STs), started before August 6 when a division bench of the Rajasthan high court was to deliver its judgment on petitions challenging merger of six BSP MLAs with the Congress.
The decision on the merger is now likely on August 11 by a single judge bench of the high court.
“We alerted our MLAs before 6th and told them to be together,” said leader of Opposition Gulab Chand Kataria, one of the tallest party leaders from south Rajasthan.
“The Congress government is set to fall and the party is approaching our legislators for support. So we have to protect our people against attack from the Congress,” he added.
State Congress president Govind Singh Dotasra denied the BJP’s allegation. “There’s no danger to our government and we don’t indulge in horse trading, which is an exclusive domain of the BJP,” he said.
There are 28 Assembly seats in southern Rajasthan comprising six districts. The BJP won 15 of them in the December 2018 Assembly election. Congress has 10 seats in the area. Of the remaining 3, one is with an Independent MLA and two are with the Bharatiya Tribal Party (BTP). The BTP MLAs are supporting the Congress government.
The Congress has 107 MLAs in the Assembly, 19 of them are in Haryana with party rebel Sachin Pilot and are unlikely to vote for the Gehlot government. Assembly Speaker Joshi and a bed-ridden MLA are among the remaining 88 MLAs including 75 MLAs from opposition parties the BJP and the Rashtriya Loktantrik Party.
Eighty-six Congress legislators, 10 Independents, 2 from BTP, one CPM and one RLD MLAs are supporting Ashok Gehlot government and are camping in two hotels in Jaisalmer. The 107 include six BSP MLAs.