JAIPUR – The Congress-led Rajasthan government is on the verge of collapse, it seems. Twelve Congress legislators of Rajasthan, who have put the Ashok Gehlot government in quandary after reportedly deciding to extend support to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), are camping at ITC Grand Bharat, the five-star hotel in Maneser of the Gurugram district.
According to a top BJP source in Haryana, they belonged to the Sachin Pilot group. Around 40 BJP legislators have also been lodged in the same hotel as the top leadership feels they are vulnerable and may go with the Congress.
Pilot has arrived in Delhi to meet party high command and has sought time for a meeting with Congress interim President Sonia Gandhi, sources said on Sunday. According to the sources, MLA P.R. Meena, considered to be a member from the Pilot group, had sought to meet Sonia Gandhi to apprise her of the “step-motherly treatment given to them by the Ashok Gehlot government in Rajasthan”.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister Gehlot called a meeting of his Ministers at his official residence in Jaipur late Saturday and asked all party MLAs to give a letter of support to him. Senior ministers have been roped in this regard. However, ministers from the Pilot camp did not attend this meeting.
Gehlot, sources said, has spoken with Sonia Gandhi, Rajasthan party affairs incharge Avinash Pandey, and Congress General Secretary (Organisation) K.C. Venugopal to apprise them of developments in his state.
Even as the battle of one-upmanship between two Congress camps was playing out in the open, state Congress leaders were busy working the numbers and calculating permutations and combinations to ensure the party’s government remains safe.
The Congress strength in 200-member Assembly is 102, with its Rashtriya Lok Dal alliance having one MLA. After six Bahujan Samaj Party MLAs joined the Congress, the ruling party’s score in the House climbed up to 108. Support of 13 Independents, 2 Bharatiya Tribal Party and two CPI-M MLAs, its tally stands at 125.
Meanwhile, the BJP has 72 MLAs, with 3 lawmakers from alliance partner Rashtriya Loktantrik Party.
Party sources confirmed that around 20-25 MLAs could back Pilot and if they leave the party, the Congress numbers will fall under 100 while the BJP numbers will touch 100.
So, the situation remains interesting in Rajasthan.
On the other hand, BJP state President Satish Poonia told IANS that the ongoing crisis within the Congress was created by the party itself and was due to infighting. “We have no role in it,” he said.
PCC Vice-President Archana Sharma told IANS that Gehlot has the numbers and the state government is in safe hands. Reports say Gehlot has been keeping a tab on his MLAs and Ministers in Rajasthan and asking about their locations on phone.
Security at the inter-state borders has been enhanced and MLA movement continuously monitored.
What raises apprehensions in the entire episode is the absence of Ministers from the pilot camp at a Saturday night meeting called by Gehlot. One of Pilot’s favourites and Tourism Minister Vishvendra Singh has since left for Delhi, though he tweeted that he was to meet his sister.
The MLAs camping in Delhi in a show of solidarity with Pilot include G.R. Khatana, Murarilal Meena, Rakesh Pareek, P.R. Meena, Harish Meena, Indraj Gurjar, Ramniwas Gawadiya, Prashant Bairwa, Chetan Dudi, Jahida Khan, Rohit Behra, Danish Abrar, Mukesh Bhakar, Sudarshan Rawat, and Amar Singh Jatav.
So, while all eyes are now focused on what all action the Congress high command will take to keep the MLAs united, eager party loyalists are busy counting and recounting the numbers on their fingertips and assuring themselves that the Gehlot government will survive the political turmoil. – IANS