Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot along with six Congress MLAs who had expressed resentment over some issues reached Udaipur, where the party legislators are putting up at a hotel ahead of the Rajya Sabha polls amid fears of horse-trading. The ruling Congress in the state also submitted a complaint to the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) on Sunday, alleging poaching attempts by the Opposition BJP.
The elections to four seats of the Rajya Sabha from the state are scheduled for June 10. While the Congress is set to win two of the seats, it requires the support of Independent MLAs and the legislators from other parties to win a third seat. The six MLAs who accompanied the chief minister to Udaipur included those who in 2019 had defected to the Congress from the BSP. Earlier on Saturday night, the MLAs met Gehlot at his residence in Jaipur and held discussions, party sources said on Sunday. The six MLAs who met Gehlot included Rajendra Gudha, Sandeep Yadav, Wajib Ali, Lakhan Meena, the legislators who had defected from the BSP. The other two MLAs were Girraj Singh Malinga and Khiladi Lal Bairwa.
On reaching Udaipur, Gehlot told reporters at the Dabok airport that the MLAs had backed the Congress during a political crisis in 2020. “When the political crisis took place, the MLAs who won on the BSP ticket had joined the Congress to give a stable government in the state without any condition. They had supported us. How can the BJP expect that now they will support them in the Rajya Sabha polls,” Gehlot asked.
Gehlot said their issues were “minor”. “We are united and we will win three seats in the Rajya Sabha polls,” Gehlot said stressing that they will foil plans of horse-trading this time too. Gehlot said they gave a complaint to the ACB as an industrialist backed by the BJP is contesting as an Independent, apparently referring to media baron Subhash Chandra. As an Independent candidate, how is he going to get votes, Gehlot asked indicating the possibility of horse-trading.
Earlier, the Congress chief whip in the state Assembly, Mahesh Joshi, said he complained to the ACB as “possibilities of horse-trading exist”. “So, I have submitted a written complaint to the ACB to make such attempts unsuccessful,” Joshi said. He said if needed the state government will lodge a complaint with the Election Commission also. Joshi said he has not named any person in the complaint but it has been submitted so that the anti-graft agency remains alert.
“In corruption, both who give and take bribe are guilty. We will not tolerate any kind of corruption and not let horse-trading take place,” he said. The Congress had decided to shift the MLAs to Udaipur fearing poaching by the BJP, which apart from fielding one official candidate is backing media baron Subhash Chandra, who has filed nomination as an Independent.
The Congress has fielded Mukul Wasnik, Pramod Tiwari and Randeep Singh Surjewala for the elections. This is not the first time when the ruling Congress in the state has shifted its legislators to a hotel.
The Congress decision reminds of two instances in 2020 when the party shifted its MLAs to a hotel ahead of the Rajya Sabha polls and during a political crisis triggered by the rebellion of party leader Sachin Pilot and 18 MLAs close to him. The filing of papers by Chandra had earlier prompted Gehlot to allege that the BJP wants to indulge in horse trading. Gehlot said this as the Congress with its 108 MLAs in the state Assembly is set to win two of the four seats. After winning two seats, the Congress will have 26 surplus votes, 15 short of the required 41 to win the third seat. On the other hand, the BJP has 71 MLAs in the state Assembly and set to win one seat, after which it will be left with 30 surplus votes.
With inputs from News18