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Amid tussle within BJP, Gehlot lauds Raje term work

In a statement issued in the evening, Raje acknowledged the praise for her and said “praising schemes is a good tradition”, but added that the “public wants to know why no attention was paid to these schemes earlier”.

Written by Hamza Khan | Jaipur |
Updated: February 25, 2021 4:53:27 am
Ashok Gehlot

At a time when BJP national vice-president and former CM Vasundhara Raje is locked in a power tussle with other BJP factions in Rajasthan and has been sidelined in the state unit of late, Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot took a swipe at the Opposition and lauded work done in Raje’s tenure.

Almost an hour into his over two-hour-long budget speech, as he stopped to drink water, Gehlot said, “I remember when Vasundhara ji presented (the budget), she didn’t drink water at all. And I have had it seven times. Par main paani pi pi kar aapko nahi kos raha hun, dhyan rakho aap. (I am not cursing you after sipping water). My heart is full of love for paksh-vipaksh (government-Opposition). I am drinking water as my throat has been bad since childhood.”

He said, “Not drinking water even once was a big thing then. Now if you [rest of the Opposition] don’t remember, it’s your wish, but I remember.”

He told the Opposition, “Delhi ko samjhao (Exhort the Union government in Delhi). I would like to tell all members of the Opposition, please, please Delhi ko samjhao, the nation runs with love and goodwill, not with hate and anger. Dissent has a place in democracy. They are not traitors.”

Before speaking on the issue of hygiene of women, Gehlot said, “The previous government did good work (on the subject) which I am going to read now.”

He also announced a Constitution Club in Jaipur. “For Assembly members, along the lines of Constitution Club in New Delhi, I propose setting up a Constitution club in Jaipur so that a lifelong bond of legislative fraternity continues between colleagues in government and Opposition.”

“There are some experts who go to Delhi in hiding,” he said in a veiled reference to state BJP president Satish Poonia and Deputy Leader of Opposition Rajendra Rathore, who allegedly travelled to Delhi discreetly, and returned, during the political crisis in the state last year.

Speaking on the Eastern Rajasthan Canal Project, he said it was brought by Raje. “We have tried to take it forward. I hope we will get support from all of you (Opposition).”

He said that in his rallies in Jaipur and Ajmer, Prime Minister Narendra Modi promised to confer it the status of a national project but it has not been done yet. He said the future of drinking and irrigation water in 13 districts depends on the project and exhorted the Opposition to follow it up with the BJP-led government in the Centre.

Gehlot mentioned Raje again when he spoke about Bhamashah Data Centre in Jaipur. He said it is “one of the leading tier-IV standard data centres in the country” and congratulated the previous government for setting it up.

“I don’t understand much but I went there and saw it, I was briefed on what all is done there. There itself I had told the media that I congratulate the previous government for it,” Gehlot said.

He said he is “large-hearted” and added, “We don’t have a 56 inch – but work with a 60 inch chest.”

In a statement issued in the evening, Raje acknowledged the praise for her and said “praising schemes is a good tradition”, but added that the “public wants to know why no attention was paid to these schemes earlier”.

Towards the end of his address, Gehlot said the Opposition were “having fun” and saying how the government will present the budget in the wake of Covid-19. “Ye jaadugar ki jaadugiri hai, dekho ab kya hota hai. (This is the magic of the magician, wait and watch what happens).”

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