Other States

Rift in Rajasthan Congress over elevating BSP ‘defectors’

File photo: Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot with Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot.   | Photo Credit: PTI

Amid speculation about a Cabinet reshuffle in Rajasthan after the merger of six BSP MLAs with the Congress, signs of rift have emerged in the ruling party.

The infighting may create difficulties for the Congress which is preparing for municipal elections in November and planning to launch a membership drive in the State.

The merger of the BSP MLAs with the Congress, just when reports surfaced that the Bharatiya Janata Party was trying to lure them in a bid to repeat a Karnataka-type upheaval in Rajasthan, has been perceived in the political circles here as a “masterstroke” of Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot. Senior BJP leaders in the State were left bewildered by the move.

The merger has taken the Congress’ tally from 100 to 106 in the 200-member Assembly, resulting in a setback to the BJP rather than the BSP. While affirming that the BSP was not in a position to form the government, Mr. Gehlot said here over the week-end that he was told that the BJP was offering up to ₹25 crore each to the Assembly members for switching sides.

Though the Congress members are happy that Mr. Gehlot has nipped the alleged BJP plot in the bud, some of them feel that elevating the newly inducted BSP MLAs as ministers would affect the morale of party workers. The voices of dissent emerged at a meeting of Pradesh Congress Committee here on Friday.

Former Minister and PCC vice-president Laxman Singh Rawat said rewarding the BSP MLAs with ministerial posts and other plum assignments would demotivate Congress MLAs and workers. He affirmed that appointing the first-time winners as Ministers would send across a wrong message in the party’s rank and file.

Though Mr. Gehlot has insisted that the six BSP MLAs had joined the Congress on their own for ensuring the government’s stability, the merger was a replay of the 2009 events when six BSP MLAs had defected to the Congress which was five short of a clear majority in the House. Half of them were made Ministers and others were appointed Paliamentary Secretaries.

Though Deputy CM Sachin Pilot, who is also the PCC president, has defended the latest political developments, his recent utterances calling for “more attention” to the law and order situation have been seen as criticism of the Home Ministry, which is headed by Mr. Gehlot.

However, Mr. Gehlot has displayed his political skills and strengthened his position within the party with the BSP MLAs’ merger. He has also silenced his critics who have been claiming that two power centres were functioning in the Congress since the formation of the government in December 2018.

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Printable version | Nov 27, 2021 12:17:08 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/rift-in-rajasthan-congress-over-elevating-bsp-defectors/article29473009.ece

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