The Rajasthan police issues notices to Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and his deputy Sachin Pilot to record their statement in connection with the alleged attempts to "topple" their Congress government. The police's special operations group (SOG) also sent a notice to government chief whip Mahesh Joshi to record his statement. The move came after the special operations group registered an FIR against two people, who have been detained, for their alleged involvement in horse-trading of Congress MLAs for toppling the Ashok Gehlot government.
As Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot on Saturday accused the BJP of trying to topple his government, claiming it was “buying MLAs the same way as goats are being bought in the goat market”, the opposition party hit back strongly, seeking he clarify if he considers the state’s MLAs to be goats.
BJP state president Satish Poonia said that the Chief Minister, after “horse-trading” and “elephant-trading”, has now started talking of “Bakra Mandi” in terms of MLAs which is strongly condemnable. “CM has insulted the state MLAs by using such terms,” he said.
Poonia alleged that the Congress had tried to topple the state’s Bhairon Singh Shekhawat government (1993-98) via horse trading “as Congress leader Bhajan Lal had come with a suitcase”. “Similarly, in 2008 and 2018, it went for elephant trading by merging BSP MLAs with Congress,” he said, in a reference to the BSP’s election symbol.
The BJP press meet came soon after Gehlot’s press conference on Saturday afternoon where he opened a scathing attack on BJP, accusing it of trying to destabilise his government.
“When our government is battling the Covid-19 crisis in state, the BJP is fighting hard to topple our government, which is the height of their shamelessness, he said, but added that his government “shall complete its five year tenure and shall win the next term too”.
However, Poonia said that Rajasthan, in 2023, shall become “Congress mukt”, adding that Gehlot is dreaming of winning another term when internal fights have become a daily routine in the party and he is unable to handle it.
He also attacked Gehlot for using the word ‘gaddar’ (traitor) for MLAs.
Earlier, the Chief Minister has said that when a party has given the opportunity to a person to become MLA, MP and minister and if the person still turns out to be a “gaddar”, then what can be done, while answering a question if there are chances of the Madhya Pradesh events being repeated in Rajasthan.
Meanwhile, Leader of Opposition Gulab Chand Kataria, who was also present at Poonia’s press meet, said the Chief Minister should set his own house in order and should stop making false charges against the BJP.
He challenged Gehlot to prove his charges or leave politics, adding that if they were proved, he would himself leave politics.
Deputy Leader of Opposition Rajendra Rathore said that many MLAs have publicly spoken against Gehlot in the last few months and now he should clarify who is a traitor.
The fight raging within the Rajasthan Congress is once again out in the open as the SOG (Special Operations Group) released tapped phone calls which discuss the rift between Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and his deputy Sachin Pilot.
The tapped conversation reveals, “there is a face-off between CM and deputy CM. Deputy CM wants to be the CM, however, BJP wants to put up its own CM. Deputy CM will be made Union minister in the centre.”
It also brings to the fore BJP’s alleged plan to topple the Congress government in Rajasthan by bringing Congress MLAs and Independents under their fold during the Rajya Sabha polls.
In fact, the entire story was unveiled after the SOG on Friday filed an FIR and arrested two people from Udaipur after tapping their phones. The names of persons involved in the telephonic conversation have not been revealed though.
SOG Inspector Vijay Kumar in the FIR said that BJP leaders tried to lure Kushalgarh MLA Rameela Khadiya with money to bring her to its camp. However, Khadiya has refuted all such claims and said, she “received no phone call from anyone in this context.”
Meanwhile, the ATS and SOG ADG Ashok Rathore said that the phones tapped have complete recordings of plans being made by the BJP to topple the Rajasthan government. In fact, new plans to form the new government were also recorded, he said adding that two people have been arrested in this context and are being brought to Jaipur from Udaipur for further investigation.
According to the SOG, it had put the mobile numbers — 9929229909 and 8949065678 under surveillance in connection with arms smuggling. However, it was revealed in the discussions that before the Rajya Sabha elections a conspiracy was hatched to topple the government.
Information about giving Rs 25 crore to MLAs has also come to light. This disclosure came on Friday after SOG Jaipur filed a case on a report given by Chief Whip Mahesh Joshi.
However, many Congress MLAs have termed the entire episode as cock and bull story and said that Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot is getting unnecessary paranoid despite Congress enjoying a strong number in the state. It just can’t repeat the MP story, one of the ministers told IANS.
Another Congress MLA said that the CM wants to leave his imprint as a Chanakya who handled his rule smartly. However, he is spoiling Pilot’s image in the entire episode to ensure he quits the game and Gehlot can have his own say.
Meanwhile, leader of opposition Rajendra Rathore said that the entire story has been scripted, directed and produced by Ashok Gehlot who wants to set his own team in place leaving aside the Pilot camp.
Meanwhile, 24 MLAs from Gehlot camp, who till Rajya Sabha elections said that they did not receive any call, issued a joint statement in a press note accusing the BJP of luring them with money power.
Unitedly, they said that the BJP is trying to topple the government.
“We have taught BJP a lesson earlier and shall fight such fascist forces in future too,” they said.
These MLAs include Jogender Singh Awana, Indira Meena, Sandeep Yadav, Shakuntala Rawat amongst others who switched from BSP with 5 other MLAs to join the Congress.
Meanwhile, BJP state president Satish Poonia said that it is good that the state government has accepted how it is going the unethical way by tapping phones. “This is Gehlot’s game of defaming his own MLAs and deputy CM. Rameela has already refuted the allegation. Basically, the Congress party is trying to deviate from the issue of poor governance and is engaging in a dirty fight,” he added. (IANS)