Updated: September 7, 2021 9:45:21 am
IN WHAT is set to increase the friction between Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and former Deputy CM Sachin Pilot, the BJP Monday wrested the Jaipur zila pramukh from the Congress despite being in a minority. The Congress turncoat who helped the BJP win, Rama Devi, is known to be close to Pilot loyalist Ved Prakash Solanki, who is an MLA from Chaksu in Jaipur.
The BJP also managed to take the Bharatpur zila parishad, where it was two short of a majority. In an embarrassment to the Congress, it polled only nine votes here, despite winning 14 seats. The BJP, which had won 17 seats, polled 28 votes after cross-voting by five Congress members and with the support of four Independents and two from the BSP.
Having conclusively won Sirohi zila parishad, the party hence controls three of the six zila parishads for which results were declared Saturday — matching the Congress, whose candidates were elected zila pramukhs in Sawai Madhopur, Dausa and Jodhpur.
Rama Devi, the new Jaipur zila pramukh, had won from Jaipur Ward No. 17 on a Congress symbol. On Monday morning, she joined the BJP in the presence of state president Satish Poonia and Deputy Leader of Opposition Rajendra Rathore, among others, and was announced as the BJP candidate for Jaipur zila pramukh. She won defeating Saroj Devi of the Congress, thanks to cross-voting by one Congress member.
In a veiled attack on Pilot following the development, Gehlot said, “The same people who tried to topple the government are involved in horse-trading.” He also attacked the BJP. “Till yesterday the BJP was making accusations of misuse of government machinery and now they have elected a zila pramukh through horse-trading. Had the Congress government misused state machinery like the previous BJP government, this would not have been possible.”
Announcing Rama Devi’s expulsion from the party for six years, Congress state president Govind Singh Dotasra said that complaints had been received against some other leaders in the episode. “Action will be taken against all those involved in anti-party activities after investigation,” he said.
The Congress had won 27 of Jaipur zila parishad’s 51 seats, against the BJP’s 24. On Monday, Rama polled 26 votes against Saroj’s 25 votes.
In Sirohi zila parishad, the BJP had won 17 of the total 21 seats. Its Arjun Ram is the new zila pramukh. In Bharatpur, the BJP’s Jagat Singh won the zila pramukh seat.
Heeralal, Leela Maderna and Sudama of the Congress were elected zila pramukh from Dausa, Jodhpur and Sawai Madhopur, respectively.
In 78 panchayat samitis for which pradhans were elected, the Congress candidates won in 49, with Dotasra also claiming the support of an Independent — taking the party total to 50. BJP candidates won as pradhan in 25 panchayat samitis, while the Rashtriya Loktantrik Party elected pradhans in Jodhpur’s Chamu and Baori panchayat samitis. One panchayat samiti has an Independent as pradhan.
Claiming a Congress victory, Gehlot said, “Six Chief Ministerial candidates of the BJP were constantly giving baseless statements against me and the government and I never responded to it. But the public has now given them a befitting reply.”
Buoyed by the Jaipur upset, Poonia said the results were a trailer for the 2023 state Assembly polls. “Traditionally, the ruling party in Rajasthan gets a one-sided mandate in Panchayati Raj polls. But the people have given a mandate against the government.”
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