Independent MLAs in Rajasthan played crucial role in Sunday’s events

The Congress Legislature Party meeting was cancelled after many threatened to quit

September 26, 2022 10:07 pm | Updated 10:07 pm IST - New Delhi

MLA Sanyam Lodha has said that the Congress government is safe in Rajasthan because of support from Independent legislators like him.

MLA Sanyam Lodha has said that the Congress government is safe in Rajasthan because of support from Independent legislators like him. | Photo Credit: PTI

Rajasthan’s Independent MLAs, who have been a pressure group supporting Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, played a crucial role in bolstering the numbers for the anti-Sachin Pilot camp forcing cancellation of the scheduled Congress Legislature Party meeting on Sunday.

Out of the 12 Independent MLAs who are supporting the Congress government in Rajasthan, 10 are those who were denied a Congress ticket in the 2018 Assembly election, when Mr. Pilot was the Pradesh Congress Committee President. According to sources, eight or nine of the Independent MLAs were present at Cabinet Minister Shanti Kumar Dhariwal’s house. The other MLAs, who could not be physically present, also extended their support to the protest.

Also read | All eyes on Sachin Pilot who is awaiting Sonia’s decision

In 2018 too, this bloc was the first to express support for Mr. Gehlot. They had given support to the Congress on the condition that Mr. Gehlot and, not Mr. Pilot, was made the Chief Minister of the State.

Speaking to The Hindu, Independent MLA Babulal Nagar said, “I have been with the Congress since 1995 and fought four elections on the Congress symbol. Because of one person’s personal likes and dislikes, I was denied ticket in 2018 and yet I won. We Independent MLAs are the ones who have stayed on with the Congress and fought against all the BJP conspiracies to destablise the government.”

Mr. Nagar was a Minister in Ashok Gehlot Cabinet between 2009 to 2013. He said that the Congress high command, instead of dictating their choice, should listen to stakeholders.

On Sunday afternoon, one of the first indicative comments came Sanyam Lodha, Independent MLA representing Sirohi.

He warned that if the Congress high command were to take a decision against the majority MLAs’ sentiment, the government would be in danger.

Speaking to The Hindu, Mr. Lodha, a two-time Congress MLA, said that the Congress government in Madhya Pradesh, Goa and the alliance government in Maharashtra had fallen, but in Rajasthan it was safe because of the unstinting support from the Independent MLAs. “We all know who was working with the BJP. How can we now accept that very conspirator as our Chief Minister?” Mr. Lodha asked.

Also read | Ajay Maken, Mallikarjun Kharge brief Sonia Gandhi; call out Congress MLAs in Rajasthan for indiscipline

He also questioned the Congress decision to send in observers when there was no “vacancy”. He questioned, “Mr. Gehlot had not yet filed his nomination papers for the Congress president polls; he hadn’t resigned too, then why did the leadership send in observers?”

But many of Mr. Gehlot’s supporters in the Congress are not too happy, with the central role played by the Independent MLAs in precipitating the situation. “They are no longer with the Congress but they are enjoying the perks of being in the Congress. The Congress functionaries at the district and block levels are appointed in consultation with these independent MLAs. This comes, many a time, at the cost of us who have been working for the party,” a parliamentarian from Rajasthan said.

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