Whip of the Rajasthan assembly Mahesh Joshi has written to the chief of state Anti-Corruption Bureau, asking the agency to investigate the matter.
Jaipur, June 11:
The Congress, busy protecting its flock in Gujarat ahead of the Rajya Sabha elections, alleges that attempts are now being made to topple its government in Rajasthan through “money power”. In Rajya Sabha polls due on June 19, three seats in Rajasthan are up for election. Sources said the party has moved all its MLAs to Shiv Vilas, a resort on the Delhi-Jaipur highway. In March, the Congress government in Madhya Pradesh collapsed after 22 MLAs defected to the BJP. In July last year, the party similarly lost power to the BJP in Karnataka, the state it was ruling in alliance with HD Kumaraswamy, after multiple exits. Currently Rajasthan is also hosting a group of Congress MLAs from Gujarat, brought allegedly to keep them out of the BJP’s reach.
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The Chief Whip of the Rajasthan assembly, Mahesh Joshi, 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,” his letter read.
Without naming the BJP, the letter said, “Our MLAs and independents supporting us — attempts are being made to lure them with money power”. In an interview to NDTV on Tuesday, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot said he has heard “reports that the BJP is willing to spend up to 25 to 30 crore per MLA”.
Three Rajya Sabha seats of Rajasthan are up for election. Two of them are expected to go to the Congress and one to the BJP. The BJP, however, has stirred political waters by putting up two candidates instead of one. To win, each candidate needs 51 first preference votes.
For now, the Congress looks comfortable. But the BJP can turn the tables if can get the support of 12 Independents, who are currently backing the Congress.
The Congress has 107 MLAS – six of them were from Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party who changed camps last year. It also has support of 12 independent MLAs. The BJP has 72 MLAs and the support of six more from partners and independents.
Last week, 19 Congress legislators from Gujarat were shifted to a resort in Rajasthan in view of the Rajya Sabha elections. Over the last months, the Congress lost seven of its MLAs in Gujarat. Three of them resigned recently and there is concern that others might follow.
Of the four Rajya Sabha seats up for election in Gujarat, the BJP has three and the Congress, one. The Congress has 65 MLAs in Gujarat, some of whom have already been packed off to different resorts. The BJP has 103 members in the 182-member state assembly. A candidate needs 34 votes to win.
A majority in Rajya Sabha is crucial for the BJP in order to pilot its bills through the upper house of parliament. In 2017, it fought a pitched battle in Gujarat to win the seat held by Congress’s Ahmed Patel, a top Sonia Gandhi aide, but lost by a whisker. But besides the Rajya Sabha, the party is also trying to expand its tally of states.
In Madhya Pradesh, the Congress government lost power in March after senior leader Jyotiraditya Scindia switched to the BJP with 22 loyalist MLAS. Yesterday, an audio clip surfaced in which the BJP’s Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan was purportedly heard claiming that the government was pulled down by the BJP’s central leaders.
The other state where the Congress lost power was Karnataka. The government led by Congress ally HD Kumaraswamy collapsed in July last year after 16 legislators and two independents supporting it, resigned. The alliance had blamed the BJP, which denied any complicity.