A major dispute has arisen between the ruling Congress and the Opposition BJP in Rajasthan, with Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot once again accusing the latter of trying to topple his government in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mr. Gehlot said on Saturday that though huge sums of money were being offered to the Congress MLAs, his government was stable and would complete its term.
‘Behest of Centre’
A day after the Special Operations Group (SOG) of the Rajasthan police registered a case on the alleged attempts to destabilise the State government, Mr. Gehlot said at a press conference in Jaipur that BJP leaders in the State, who had crossed the “limits of shamelessness”, were playing the game at the behest of Central leaders of their party.
Mr. Gehlot said this was the second attempt to topple his government, after the BJP’s attempt to poach the legislators ahead of last month’s Rajya Sabha elections failed. “This time, the efforts are more organised. MLAs have been offered an advance of ₹10 crore and a deferred payment of ₹15 crore,” he claimed.
“Amid the crisis posed by the pandemic, the BJP has gone beyond humanity. Its leaders are doing politics like in a bakra mandi (goat market),” Mr. Gehlot said. He named Leader of Opposition Gulab Chand Kataria, Deputy Leader of Opposition Rajendra Rathore and BJP State president Satish Poonia as those involved in “dirty games”.
The SOG has detained two persons, whose telephone calls were intercepted, after registering an FIR in connection with the horse-trading charges during the Rajya Sabha polls.
The FIR stated that the conversation revolved around the alleged differences between the Chief Minister and his deputy Sachin Pilot and the scope for breaking the ruling party and luring Independent MLAs to topple the government.
Notice to CM, Deputy CM
While the SOG has issued notices to the Chief Minister, the Deputy Chief Minister and the government’s chief whip Mahesh Joshi for recording their statements, the Anti-Corruption Bureau is also likely to take action in the matter under the Prevention of Corruption Act.
Mr. Gehlot said the SOG’s investigation, which he would be glad to join by giving his statement, would reveal all aspects of the BJP’s conspiracy.
The BJP rejected Mr. Gehlot’s allegations and accused him of misusing the agencies like SOG and ACB for “threatening MLAs and [other] political parties”.
BJP State president Mr. Poonia said the Chief Minister was trying to shift attention from an “intense infighting” in Congress by blaming the BJP for the political situation created by the ruling party.
“The Congress protected democracy for 70 years after Independence, but all of this changed after 2014 when the BJP came to power at the Centre,” Mr Gehlot said.
The Congress, elected to power in December 2018, has 107 MLAs in the 200-member State Assembly. The ruling party has the support of 13 independent legislators and one Rashtriya Lok Dal, two CPI(M) and two Bharatiya Tribal party MLAs.