(Front 2 on L) Arjun Lal Jingar & Dharmnarayan Joshi and (R) Jagasi Ram Koli & Samaram Garasiya with other MLA…Read More
JAIPUR: In yet another intriguing twist to the political drama playing out in Rajasthan, BJP has packed off 20 of its 72 MLAs to Gujarat in two batches to stave off an alleged bid by Congress to “pressure” them into backing the Ashok Gehlot government in the event of a trust vote.
Fourteen MLAs checked into a resort in Gandhinagar on Friday evening while six others were flown to Porbandar on Saturday afternoon even as conflicting theories of a rift within the party and overtures by Congress added to the whispers.
State BJP president Satish Poonia denied that internal party politics had anything to do with the move, but former CM Vasundhara Raje’s meeting with defence minister Rajnath Singh in Delhi fuelled speculation about something brewing within the saffron party.
Sources claimed Raje complained to Singh about BJP MLAs being herded into resorts in another state, saying it had been done to malign her image. Three MLAs from Raje’s home turf Jhalawar refused to go until they got instructions from the former CM, sources said.
State party chief Poonia blamed Congress for the “rumour” that Raje was the reason for 20 MLAs being flown out of Rajasthan since Friday evening. “Raje is a two-time CM and BJP’s national general secretary. Our party is united and there is no scope for any differences with her. Congress is taking Raje’s name, but will be disappointed because there is nothing in it for them.”
Poonia said the decision to move out some legislators was based on information that Congress, which has corralled its own MLAs in a Jaisalmer resort, had been allegedly using the police and other agencies to approach them. “They were under mental trauma due to these attempts. If some of them have gone somewhere, they have not committed a crime.”
The MLAs will remain in Gujarat till the eve of the special assembly session from August 14, sources said.
Of the 20 MLAs who are now in Gujarat, 10 represent ST seats where the Bharatiya Tribal Party (BTP), a Congress ally, has considerable influence. Between six and eight of these MLAs had been approached by senior Congress functionaries, a source said.
TOI had reported earlier this week about the BTP playing its bargaining chips to get some long-pending demands fulfilled, including declaring August 9 as a state holiday to mark World Tribal Day, in return for supporting the Gehlot government in a possible trial of strength.