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Thursday, August 06, 2020

Rajasthan crisis: Ashok Gehlot moves MLAs to Jaisalmer to keep ‘external pressure’ away till Assembly session

“Ever since the Governor declared 14th (August, for the House to convene), the telephones have started ringing. We get news who is calling and what they are offering. They (MLAs) are being asked, ‘tell us what you want’…” chief minister said.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi | Updated: July 31, 2020 7:40:22 pm
Ashok Gehlot, Congress MLAs leave for Jaisalmer, Rajasthan political crisis, Rajasthan news, Rajasthan assembly session, Sachin Pilot, India news, Indian express Congress MLAs leave Jaipur’s Fairmont to board a flight to Jaisalmer on Friday. (Express photo)

Alleging mental harassment of Congress MLAs of his camp, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot Friday led the MLAs, who were staying at the Fairmont Hotel in Jaipur since the political crisis began in the state, to Jaisalmer. The MLAs are expected to stay there till state assembly convenes on August 14.

“Our MLAs who were lodged here since many days, were being harassed mentally. We thought of shifting them to keep external pressure away,” the chief minister said.

On Thursday, Gehlot indicated that he will seek a confidence vote when the assembly convenes next fortnight. He also said he had told Governor Kalraj Mishra that giving a 21-day window before calling the Assembly will “increase horse-trading”, adding that the “rates” of MLAs have risen manifold after Mishra agreed to call the House session from August 14.

“Ever since the Governor declared 14th (August, for the House to convene), the telephones have started ringing. We get news who is calling and what they are offering. They (MLAs) are being asked, ‘tell us what you want’…” the chief minister said.

Maintaining that earlier the “first installment” paid to MLAs — purportedly to buy their votes — was Rs 10 crore, “and the next” was Rs 15 crore, Gehlot said, “You will be surprised to know that it is now unlimited. Now they are being asked, ‘tell us what you want’. It means that from 25 (crore rupees), horse trading rates have increased.”

The Chief Minister also said the rebels who have not accepted money should return to the party fold.

Meanwhile, two days after the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) filed a petition in Rajasthan High Court challenging the Assembly Speaker’s decision last year to approve the merger of six BSP MLAs into the ruling Congress, Gehlot also accused BSP chief Mayawati of giving statements under compulsion from the BJP.

Gehlot said, “The BJP merged four TDP MPs (in Rajya Sabha, last year) into it overnight. That merger is correct but six MLAs merging with Congress in Rajasthan is wrong?” He accused the BJP-led Centre of “misusing” the Income Tax Department, ED, CBI to “scare and threaten everyone” and said, “Mayawati-ji is also getting scared of them and giving statements under compulsion.”

On July 13, the MLAs were shifted to the Jaipur’s Fairmont after Sachin Pilot and 18 other Congress MLAs rebelled against the government triggering the political crisis.

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