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Rajasthan political crisis | Leave Haryana for talks, Congress tells rebel MLAs

Women celebrate Raksha Bandhan with Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot in Jaisalmer on August 3, 2020.

Women celebrate Raksha Bandhan with Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot in Jaisalmer on August 3, 2020.   | Photo Credit: PTI

The Congress on Tuesday offered to hold discussions with dissident MLAs, led by the ousted Rajasthan Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot, if they gave up the hospitality of the BJP government in Haryana and the security of Haryana police. The legislators of the Pilot camp have been staying in hotels near Gurugram since the political turmoil in the State started last month.

Congress’ national spokesperson Randeep Surjewala told reporters outside a resort in Jaisalmer, where the MLAs supporting Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot are staying, that the only condition for talks with the rebel MLAs was that they should leave the Manohar Lal Khattar government’s ‘suraksha chakra’ (protection ring).

Rajasthan political crisis | Ahead of Assembly session, Congress factions inch towards a truce

“More than 1,000 policemen are deployed for the security of 19 MLAs, when gangrapes are happening in Haryana and people are being beaten up in Gurugram,” Mr. Surjewala said. The legislators should first give up the Haryana police’s security and “friendship and hospitality” of the BJP and return home for any dialogue to take place, he added.

The Congress has repeatedly accused the BJP of attempting to topple the Ashok Gehlot government, while Mr. Gehlot has charged his former deputy with being involved in the conspiracy with the BJP. In reply to a question, Mr. Surjewala said the politics should have a dharma (righteousness) rather than having a politics of dharma (religion).

‘Fight for self-respect’

Hours after Mr. Surjewala made the remarks, three MLAs supporting Mr. Pilot issued a statement affirming that their fight was about “self-respect” and against the working style of Mr. Gehlot.

Rajasthan political crisis | In u-turn, Ashok Gehlot now ready to accept rebels

The legislators — Hemaram Chaudhary, Ved Prakash Solanki and Indraj Singh — said Mr. Pilot was “humiliated and systematically marginalised” within the State government and deprived of authority despite holding the post of Deputy CM.

In an attempt to keep his flock of MLAs together, Mr. Gehlot has taken several decisions since last week to address the grievances of elected representatives as well the people of their constituencies. In addition to the declaration of public holiday on the World Indigenous People's Day, the Chief Minister has announced 5% reservation for Most Backward Classes (MBCs) in the judicial service.

The public holiday will make an impact in the tribal-dominated areas in southern Rajasthan, where the Bharatiya Tribal Party emerged strong in the 2018 Assembly election and won two seats. The support of the two BTP MLAs is going to be crucial for the Congress in the Assembly session.

The decision to extend job quota to MBCs, which include Gujjars, apparently aimed at sending a message to all communities that Mr. Pilot’s rebellion would not affect the Congress government’s welfare measures.

Rajasthan political crisis | Rajasthan Police not allowed to enter Haryana hotels to deliver notices to dissident Congress MLAs

Mr. Gehlot has also announced opening of government colleges in several districts, including in constituencies represented by the dissident MLAs. Besides, a large number of officers have been transferred on the requests of MLAs and an assurance was held out at a Congress Legislature Party meeting that the MLAs’ local area development fund would shortly be increased.

Meanwhile, the Special Operations Group (SOG) of Rajasthan Police on Tuesday requested the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate's court here to transfer the investigation in three cases in connection with alleged attempts to topple the State government to the Anti-Corruption Bureau after removing Section 124-A (sedition) of IPC from them.

The SOG had registered three FIRs on the basis of complaints filed by Congress party's chief whip Mahesh Joshi, when audio tapes about alleged horse-trading of MLAs were leaked. The ACB has also registered a case in this connection under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

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Printable version | Sep 23, 2020 8:36:05 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/rajasthan-government-crisis-rebel-mlas-should-give-up-bjps-hospitality-if-they-want-dialogue-with-congress-surjewala/article32265945.ece

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