Ashok Gehlot, Rajasthan CM, Congress president election
Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot. File photo: PTI

Cong, BJP play blame game; Two MLAs assert support for Gehlot govt

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As the Congress accused the BJP of shifting its 18 legislators from Haryana to Karnataka and the saffron party demanded a CBI probe into phone-tapping allegations, two MLAs of the Bhartiya Tribal Party (BTP) on Saturday (July 18) asserted that their party had agreed on extending support to the Ashok Gehlot-led government in Rajasthan.

Earlier, Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera has accused BJP leaders, including Union Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, of conspiring with the MLAs backing Sachin Pilot to bring down the Rajasthan government. The remark came after Rajasthan police were stopped from entering the resorts in Haryana where the MLAs had been camping.

Reacting to the incident, Govind Singh Dotasra, the newly-appointed president of Rajasthan Pradesh Congress Committee, claimed that the Haryana police had prevented the Special Operations Group of the Rajasthan police from entering the premises until the MLAs were moved out of the resorts.

The MLAs have been camping at the resorts after Assembly Speaker CP Joshi issued disqualification notices to all 18 legislators and former Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot. However, they got a four-day reprieve from any action by the Speaker as the Rajasthan High Court extended its hearing on the issue to next week.

Meanwhile, breaking her silence on the issue, BJP leader and former Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje alleged that some people were trying to create confusion on the political developments in the state and said she stood with her party and its ideology. She added that people of Rajasthan were paying for the discord within the Congress.

The interest of the people must be paramount for the government, Raje said while asking the ruling Congress to think about the public. “There is no point in trying to drag the BJP and the BJP leaders names through the mud. It is the interest of our people that must remain paramount!” she said in a statement posted on Twitter.

Her remarks came in the backdrop of Nagaur MP and Rashtriya Loktantrik Party convener Hanuman Beniwal accusing Raje of having an internal alliance with Gehlot, who is facing a rebellion from Pilot. For the last few days, Raje had maintained a conspicuous silence on the political developments in the state.

BJP seeks CBI probe

The BJP asked if the Congress government resorted to “unconstitutional” methods to tap phones of politicians and demanded a CBI probe into what it called a “saga of illegalities and concocted lies”. BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra said senior Congress leaders, including Gehlot, had been claiming that these audio clips were authentic even though the FIR registered by police did not say so.

“These are serious questions that we want to ask the Congress high command and Ashok Gehlot. Was phone tapping done? Assuming that you’ve tapped phones, was the SOP followed? Did the Congress government in Rajasthan use unconstitutional ways to save themselves when they found themselves cornered?” Patra said at a press conference.

Raising the same issue, Bahujan Samaj Party supremo Mayawati said Gehlot had openly violated the anti-defection law and cheated the BSP for a second time by getting its MLAs included in the Congress. “And it is also evident he did an illegal and unconstitutional thing by phone tapping,” Mayawati said in a series of tweets in Hindi.

Rajasthan Governor Kalraj Mishra should take cognisance of the instability in the state and recommend Presidents Rule. “The governor must take cognisance of the political deadlock and instability prevailing in Rajasthan, and should recommend imposition of Presidents Rule in the state, so that the condition of democracy in the state does not deteriorate.”

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