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Tuesday, August 04, 2020

Congress infighting in Rajasthan: BJP watches keenly, wants Sachin Pilot to make first move

In the 200-member Assembly, the Congress has 107 MLAs and it is supported by two members each from Bharatiya Tribal Party and CPM, one MLA from RLD, and 12 Independents.

Written by Liz Mathew | New Delhi | Updated: July 13, 2020 5:07:51 pm
Rajasthan, Rajasthan political crisis, Sachin Pilot, Rajasthan government, Rajasthan government collapse, Ashok Gehlot, Rajasthan news, Sachin Pilot in delhi, sachin pilot bjp Outside CM Ashok Gehlot’s house in Jaipur. (Express photo by Rohit Jain Paras)

With the infighting in Rajasthan Congress out in the open, the BJP that leveraged a similar situation in Bhopal is watching closely to see if it can find an opportunity to put up an alternate arrangement in Jaipur. But the party is not yet ready to take any step, said sources.

“We are just watching the situation. The game still does not appear to be set for the BJP,” said a senior party leader. Another senior leader from Rajasthan said, “As of today, the BJP has taken a conscious decision not to do anything, but is watching the developments. Let the crack in the Congress widen enough for the government to fall through.”

Late on Sunday night, there were hectic meetings in the BJP over Rajasthan’s political developments. Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan held discussions with Home Minister Amit Shah in the evening. Incidentally, Pradhan was instrumental in Jyotiraditya Scindia joining the BJP. While BJP leaders are not averse to Sachin Pilot, now Deputy CM of Rajasthan, joining the party, the Congress leader has been maintaining that it’s not an option for him.

The BJP leaders denied that Pilot, whose friction with Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot has intensified, met party leaders.

rajasthan congress mlas, rajasthan congress mlas bjp horse trading, bjp rajasthan government, ashok gehlot, rajasthan bjp congress fight Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot (right) and Deputy CM Sachin Pilot (File)

“These are rumours spread by the Gehlot camp to malign Pilot and cement his position with the Congress leadership,” said a BJP MP from Rajasthan. Another party MP added, “This is Gehlot launching a pre-emptive strike against Pilot. As it is, Gehlot has made him a figurehead Deputy CM and now he wants to weaken him further before the Congress leadership.”

Read | Pilot digs in, claims he has the numbers to cut Gehlot to size

“There are no negotiations even. It is too early for the BJP leadership to get involved. Because we know that Pilot, as of today, is not capable of mustering the number (of MLAs) to pull down the Gehlot government,” said a leader.

However, party sources admitted that the BJP has not ruled out a “Bhopal-like development” in Jaipur.

Congress infighting in Rajasthan: BJP watches keenly, wants Sachin Pilot to make first move The BJP wants Pilot to act and pull down the Gehlot government, like what Scindia did in Madhya Pradesh. (File photo)

In the 200-member Assembly, the Congress has 107 MLAs and it is supported by two members each from Bharatiya Tribal Party and CPM, one MLA from RLD, and 12 Independents. The BJP has 72 MLAS, its ally RLP has three and is supported by one Independent MLA.

In Madhya Pradesh, the difference in the number of MLAs of the Congress that formed the government in 2018, and the BJP was very narrow — the Congress had 114, the BJP 109.

Read | Why this time battle-lines are drawn harder than ever in Rajasthan

It will not be wise for the BJP to make a move unless it can engineer a bigger split in the Congress, sources said.

One leader also pointed out that the BJP also has on its mind the issues it is facing in Madhya Pradesh, where the national leadership is still struggling to reach a consensus on portfolio distribution among the new ministers. Even the cabinet formation got delayed due to differences between the party’s senior leaders, including Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Jyotiraditya Scindia, who crossed over from the Congress to the BJP with MLAs loyal to him, leading to the fall of the Kamal Nath government.

Keeping in mind judicial interventions that foiled the party’s attempts to form alternate governments in the past in Uttarakhand, Karnataka and Maharashtra, the BJP wants Pilot to act and pull down the Gehlot government, like what Scindia did in Madhya Pradesh.

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