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In a fix after Sachin Pilot’s no to joining BJP, saffron party says game ‘not concluded yet’

Party leaders maintained that the BJP, as the main Opposition in Rajasthan, will take “every action to see that the Gehlot government fails to prove (its) majority” in the Assembly.

Written by Liz Mathew | New Delhi | Updated: July 16, 2020 11:18:38 am
Sachin Pilot, Rajasthan Congress, ashok gehlot, bjp attacks ghelot, sachin pilot to not join BJP, rajasthan news, indian express news On Wednesday, Pilot told The Indian Express that joining BJP is not an option before him, which seems to have left BJP leaders a little confused. (File)

Former Rajasthan deputy chief minister and Congress leader Sachin Pilot’s reiteration that joining BJP is not an option for him seems to have thrown the saffron party in a fix, which on Wednesday went back to a “wait and watch” mode. But the fight for the embattled Ashok Gehlot government may not be over still, with Union minister and senior BJP leader from the state Gajendra Singh Shekhawat indicating that it has “not concluded yet”.

Party leaders maintained that the BJP, as the main Opposition in Rajasthan, will take “every action to see that the Gehlot government fails to prove (its) majority” in the Assembly.

According to BJP leaders, the party has discussed several plans in case Pilot and Rajasthan Congress MLAs backing him do not vote for the Gehlot government. “But we need to get a final picture on what Pilot wants, and what (kind of support) he has,” a party leader said.

Explained: What now in Rajasthan? After notice to Congress rebels, roles of Speaker and Governor

“We are waiting and watching, but the BJP will help those who are leaving the Congress camp,” a senior BJP leader said. “As an opposition party, we will have to see that the Ashok Gehlot government is defeated (in a floor test).”

While many in the BJP had felt that Pilot would be an asset to the party if he leaves the Congress with a bunch of legislators, and that the BJP could then initiate action to topple the Gehlot government, the former PCC chief’s stand seems to have disappointed them.

On Wednesday, Pilot told The Indian Express that joining BJP is not an option before him, which seems to have left BJP leaders a little confused.

Explained: How Speaker’s notice to 19 Congress MLAs changes the numbers game in Rajasthan

Party leaders are now criticising Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot for his remark that he had “proof that horse-trading was being committed”, and that the “deputy chief minister and PCC president himself (Pilot) was doing the deal”.

Union minister and senior BJP leader from the state, Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, told The Indian Express, “If the Chief Minister had proof that his deputy was involved in horse-trading, why did he and the Congress blame BJP? Where did he get the proof? He should make it public and apologise to the BJP.”

Read | Rajasthan: Ex-Congress, 10 of 13 ‘kingmaker’ Independents likely to back CM Gehlot

Shekhawat said the BJP has said “from day one” that this was an internal issue of the Congress. “We were nowhere in the picture. But the Congress blamed BJP for it (the crisis). Gehlot should speak out now about the allegation he made,” he said.

Asked whether the BJP would see that the government is defeated in a floor test, Shekhawat said: “We wish from the core of our heart this corrupt government goes. As an opposition party, the BJP has a role to see that the anti-people government is thrown out.”

Read | Gehlot slams the door, but leadership keeps a window open for Pilot

According to a BJP leader, who is a national office-bearer, the party can get into action if Pilot brings out at least 20-25 MLAs from the Congress camp, including Independents.

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