Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot on Thursday indicated that he will seek a confidence vote when the assembly convenes next fortnight and claimed that the money offered to the MLAs to switch sides had increased sharply ahead of the session.
IMAGE: Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot speaks to media persons outside a hotel, in Jaipur, on Thursday. Photograph: PTI Photo
“The floor test will happen; we are going to the assembly. The BAC decides this,” he told reporters, referring to the assembly’s business advisory committee.
He said the House will also discuss the coronavirus pandemic and the state’s economy after the lockdown.
Gehlot accused Bahujan Samaj Party supremo Mayawati of acting at the behest of the Bharatiya Janata Party, referring to her party’s petition in the high court challenging the merger of six BSP MLAs with the Congress last year.
The chief minister claimed that MLAs have been getting calls after Governor Kalraj Mishra agreed Wednesday night to convene a session from August 14.
Gehlot said earlier the ‘rate’ was 10 crore as the first instalment and Rs 15 crore as the second.
“Now, it is being asked how much do you want? This means that the rate has increased. Everyone knows who is doing the horse-trading,” he said.
Gehlot is trying to save his government after Sachin Pilot and 18 other Congress MLAs rebelled.
The Congress has accused the BJP of being behind the “conspiracy” to topple the state government.
The chief minister said the rebels who have not accepted money should return to the party-fold.
“I am not aware who all have taken the first instalment among those who had left. It is possible that some might not have taken it. I want them to come back,” he said.
He said everyone is aware of the intentions of the dissidents.
“They won elections on Congress tickets and their first duty is to stand with the government. They don’t realise what people are thinking about them in their constituencies, and they will come to know that later,” he said.
“Why are they playing in the lap of the BJP,” he asked.
Gehlot said if the dissident MLAs had any complaints, they should have gone to the All India Congress Committee office, instead of keeping away.
He said BSP chief Mayawati’s complaint about last year’s merger of six BSP MLAs with that of his party was unjustified, since the entire group in the assembly switched sides.
“It was not about two MLAs. All six MLAs merged, and according to their own conscience,” Gehlot said.
He alleged that she was giving statements at the behest of the BJP because she is afraid of the party that is misusing the Central Bureau of Investigation, the Enforcement Directorate and the Income Tax department against everyone.
The Rajasthan high court on Thursday issued notices to the assembly Speaker, secretary and the six MLAs over the BSP’s petition.
Gehlot said the dissident Congress MLAs are at Manesar in Gurgaon and the Special Operations Group (SOG) of the Rajasthan police is unable to reach them.
He claimed that Union Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat’s name had cropped up in the ‘conspiracy’ against his government.
The chief minister said the SOG has started an investigation against him in a cooperative credit society scam, but the minister is yet to resign.
He said the BJP and Union Home Minister Amit Shah should give up their ‘intention’ of toppling the elected government and instead try to save lives from coronavirus.
“The state and the Centre should together work on this but, unfortunately, their priority is to topple governments,” he alleged.
“People will not forgive the BJP for the situation they have created. We will not spare them and completely expose them in the state and the country,” he said.
Gehlot said the BJP ‘conspiracy’ to topple his government will not succeed and it will complete its five-year term.
Including the 19 dissidents, the Congress has 11 MLAs in the 200-member assembly. The BJP has 72.