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Saturday, September 19, 2020

Rajasthan Government News HIGHLIGHTS: CM Gehlot meets Guv after claiming support from two BTP MLAs

"The BJP has now admitted to its role in the murder of democracy in Rajasthan. Their only grievance was that when we were murdering, why were we getting recorded and if we were getting recorded was it legal,” Congress' Pawan Khera said.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi | Updated: July 19, 2020 10:34:09 am
Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot visits Governor Kalraj Mishra at Raj Bhavan today.

Hours after Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot claimed support from the two MLAs of Bhartiya Tribal Party(BTP), he visited Governor Kalraj Mishra at Raj Bhavan on Saturday.  The chief minister in his tweet said that they discussed about the efforts being taken to control the spread of coronavirus in the state.

With the two BTP MLAs confirming support to the Gehlot government, the strength of the Congress in the Rajasthan Assembly now effectively stands at 90. The Rajasthan High Court has extended till Tuesday evening the deadline set by Speaker C P Joshi to the 19 rebel state Congress MLAs to respond to his showcause notices.

Meanwhile, the political row between the Congress and the BJP over the audio tapes, in which Union Minister of Jal Shakti Gajendra Singh Shekhawat and Congress MLA Bhanwarlal Sharma are allegedly heard plotting to topple the Ashok Gehlot government, continued on Saturday with the saffron party demanding a CBI probe. “Did the Rajasthan government use unconstitutional ways to save themselves when they found themselves cornered? Is the phone of any person who is related to politics is being tapped?” BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra said.

The Congress responded to the above claims by saying that the saffron party has finally admitted to its role in the “murder of democracy”. “The BJP has now admitted to its role in the murder of democracy in Rajasthan. Their only grievance was that when we were murdering, why were we getting recorded and if we were getting recorded was it legal,” party spokesperson Pawan Khera said.

Live Blog

Sachin Pilot, rebel MLAs get time till Tuesday to respond to Speaker; Rajasthan HC's next hearing on Monday; row over 'audio tapes' continues, BJP demands CBI probe. Get latest updates here.

21:29 (IST)18 Jul 2020
Rajasthan CM visits Governor Kalraj Mishra

Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot on Saturday payed a courtesy visit to Governor Kalraj Mishra at Raj Bhavan.  The chief minister in his tweet said that discussed about the efforts being taken to control the spread of coronavirus in the state.

20:59 (IST)18 Jul 2020
Cong blaming BJP for 'internal strife' ridiculous, condemnable: Diya Kumari

BJP MP from Rajsamand Diya Kumari on Saturday hit back at the Congress for blaming the BJP for its "internal strife" and claimed that the root of the controversy is the continuing war of supremacy within the ruling party in Rajasthan.

She said blaming BJP leaders at the Centre or in the state for the political tussle in Rajasthan is a "reflection of the Congress' frustration".
It is ridiculous and condemnable to blame the BJP for Congress' "internal strife", Diya Kumari said.

"The people of Rajasthan will never forgive them that instead of providing relief to the people in these pandemic times, the Congress MLAs are learning to make Italian dishes in a five-star hotel," the MP, who is a member of the erstwhile Jaipur royal family, said in a statement.

20:25 (IST)18 Jul 2020
Gehlot camp MLAs performing yoga, getting cooking tips at 5-star hotel

From performing yoga to getting cooking tips, Rajasthan Congress MLAs of Ashok Gehlot camp are engaging themselves in various activities in a five-star hotel on the Delhi Highway where they have been staying since Monday amid the political crisis in the state. In many photos and videos doing the rounds on social media, some of the legislators are seen doing yoga in the hotel lawn, crowding around a chef cooking food, watching movies, playing carrom and celebrating the birthday of an MLA. In a video, mostly women legislators including minister Mamta Bhupesh and Olympian Krishna Poonia are seen among others crowding around a chef. Taking a dig at the Congress, the BJP accusing the Rajasthan ruling party legislators of violating social distancing norms and other COVID-19 protocols which the government directs people to follow strictly but are violated when it comes to its MLAs. "The MLAs are seen without wearing face masks and not following social distancing norms. The government is not allowing gathering of more than 50 people in view of the coronavirus pandemic but no such rule is followed here," BJP state president Satish Poonia said.

19:16 (IST)18 Jul 2020
BJP leader and ex-speaker rues 'immoral' attempts to 'destabilise' Gehlot govt

Veteran Rajasthan BJP leader and former assembly speaker Kailash Chandra Meghwal on Saturday expressed his displeasure at alleged attempts to topple the Congress government when the state faces many challenges. "Rajasthan politics has been derailed. It is unfortunate that attempts are being made to destabilise the government when the state faces the danger of COVID-19 pandemic and also unemployment among its poor. This is not appropriate. This is due to internal feud within the Congress," he told PTI.  Meghwal, an MLA considered close to former chief minister Vasundhara Raje, said it was "condemnable" that people had resorted to "immoral tactics, ugly politics and horse-trading" to destabilise the government. Only a stable government can deal with the challenges like coronavirus and unemployment, he said. He also said that leaders have no right to topple a government, be it of any political party. 

18:55 (IST)18 Jul 2020
CM Ashok Gehlot claims support from two BTP MLAs

Days after BTP party issued a whip asking the MLAs to abstain from voting for any side, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot on Saturday confirmed support from the two MLAs of Bhartiya Tribal Party(BTP). 

18:00 (IST)18 Jul 2020
Sanjay Jain, accused in connection with two audio clips, sent to 4-day remand of Special Operations Group

A Jaipur court on Saturday court sent Sanjay Jain, accused by the Rajasthan Congress for allegedly trying to topple the government, to four-day remand of Special Operations Group (SOG) team of Rajasthan Police.

Earlier, Rajasthan Police's Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) has registered a case in connection with two audio clips of conversations purportedly regarding a "conspiracy" to topple the Ashok Gehlot government. DG ACB Alok Tripathi on Saturday said that the FIR was registered under the Prevention of Corruption Act on a complaint by Chief Whip Mahesh Joshi on Friday. In the FIR, details of conversations of rebel MLA Bhanwarlal Sharma with Sanjay Jain and Union minister Gajendra Singh are mentioned. While the Congress alleged that Sanjay Jain is a BJP leader, the saffron party rejected the allegation, saying he had no connection with the BJP.

"We will send the audio clips to the Forensic Science Laboratory for testing," the police official told reporters.Prior to the ACB, the Special Operations Group of the Rajasthan Police (SOG) had registered two FIRs on Friday morning and arrested Sanjay Jain in connection with one case on Friday night. Jain's name had surfaced in a viral audio recording about horse trading of legislators to topple the Congress government in Rajasthan.

15:39 (IST)18 Jul 2020
People are paying for discord within Congress: Vasundhara Raje

Vasundhara Raje Scindia, former Rajasthan CM and tallest BJP leader in the state on Saturday expressed her views on the ongoing Rajasthan government crisis and said "it is unfortunate that the people of Rajasthan are paying for the discord within the Congress."

15:06 (IST)18 Jul 2020
Not part of FIR, audio clip has MLA ‘talking amount’

While two audio clips have formed the basis for separate FIRs by the Special Operations Group of Rajasthan Police for an alleged conspiracy to topple the Ashok Gehlot government, a third audio clip, released by the ruling Congress on Thursday evening, has two people talking purportedly about an “amount”, and also mentioning names of Congress MLAs. This clip is not mentioned in the FIRs. The clip has one person purportedly asking, “The talk of amount has been done?”. To this, the other answers in the affirmative. The conversation takes place in Hindi and Rajasthani. The audio clip was sent to reporters by Lokesh Sharma, OSD to the Rajasthan Chief Minister, on Thursday evening. The Indian Express cannot independently verify authenticity of the audio clip.

14:48 (IST)18 Jul 2020
'Who is providing this black money, where did it come from?'

Taking to Twitter, Congress said: "An independent investigation must begin into BJP's nefarious activities in Rajasthan. Who is providing all this black money & where did it come from?"

14:46 (IST)18 Jul 2020
Watch: Pawan Khera attacks BJP over Rajasthan crisis

Congress leader Pawan Khera addressed the media today. You can listen here.

14:10 (IST)18 Jul 2020
'Even Rajiv Gandhi was handsome': Rebel MLA takes swipe at CM Gehlot

Rebel Congress MLA Vishvendra Singh today hit out at CM Gehlot for mocking his former deputy Sachin Pilot earlier. He said: "Even Rajiv Gandhi was handsome and could speak English very well," he tweeted.

13:32 (IST)18 Jul 2020
Challenge BJP to free MLAs, says Congress leader

"I challenge the BJP to free the 19 MLAs, they will return to the Congress. The MLAs know that if people see them as 'sell-outs', they will not be able to face the public," Raghu Sharma, Rajasthan Minister and Congress leader, was quoted as saying by ANI.

13:19 (IST)18 Jul 2020
BJP trying to shift Rajasthan lawmakers to Karnataka: Congress

“What is the reason that Sachin Pilot trusts the Haryana police more than the Rajasthan police? We want to know. On the one hand, celebrated lawyers close to the BJP are trying to prove in the court of law in Rajasthan that Pilot and all the MLAs are part of the Congress party and on the other hand, these MLAs take protection from Haryana police and under that protection, try and escape from the hotel when the Rajasthan police team reaches to take the voice samples. If you are part of the Congress, why are you in the custody of a BJP-ruled state? We are told attempts are being made to take them to another BJP-ruled state of Karnataka,” Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera said.

12:22 (IST)18 Jul 2020
Mayawati seeks President's rule in Rajasthan

Taking to Twitter, BSP leader Mayawati said: "It is clear that the Rajasthan CM is violating the law. They first roped in the Bahujan Samajwadi Party MLAs. Now, they have again violated the law by illegally tapping phones. The President's rule should be imposed in the state." 

12:17 (IST)18 Jul 2020
Congress MLAs seeking Haryana cops' protection shows BJP hand in crisis: Congress

For the first time in the history, the Haryana police blocked the SOG from collecting the voice samples and made sure the MLAs escaped. The BJP used the Khattar government in Haryana to thwart the probe. Does Sachin Pilot trust Haryana cops more than Rajasthan Police? These MLAs belong to the Congress but they are taking protection from Haryana Police. All the MLAs against whom there was no FIR also tried to escape from the hotel. This makes it amply clear that it is a BJP operation. They are not denying it anyway. Their only grievance is why were their phones tapped." 

12:13 (IST)18 Jul 2020
Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera responds to BJP's claims

Addressing the media, Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera said: "We all witnessed, over the last 10 days, the daylight murder of democracy being attempted by BJP. Every day, a new layer comes out exposing the links of the BJP in trying to create some crisis in Rajasthan. BJP's claims today is like watching me murder someone and then complain to the cops. Isn't he intruding upon my space to see me committing the crime?" 

11:45 (IST)18 Jul 2020
‘Our morality is clear’: BJP seeks CBI probe into Congress’ ‘phone tapping’ allegations

“Our morality is clear… No fictional stories can shake us,” BJP's Patra today said, adding that the Rajasthan Chief Minister should answer the questions asked by the saffron party. The BJP leader added that “the reality is that since the Congress came into power, there has been a dual on the street between Ashok Gehlot and Sachin Pilot on who would be the Chief Minister.” He pointed out citing Gehlot’s remarks that the chief minister and deputy chief minister had not been in talking terms for the last 18 months. “The sin was theirs… the conspiracy existed within the Congress, but the allegations were against the BJP. They came out with audio clips, which were manufactured, to accuse the BJP of conspiracies,” Patra said. Click here to read more.

11:10 (IST)18 Jul 2020
BJP planning to topple Rajasthan govt for past two months: Gehlot

Taking to Twitter late on Friday night, Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot said the BJP has been indulging in horse-trading activities for the past two months.

10:44 (IST)18 Jul 2020
Vasundhara Raje out of Rajasthan heat, BJP seen as keen to have fresh faces in state

As political events unfold at a rapid pace in Jaipur, the main figure in Opposition BJP has been keeping a calculated distance. Unlike in neighboring Madhya Pradesh, where a similar political drama led to BJP replacing the Congress government and the party had Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and senior leaders in the loop for negotiations, Vasundhara Raje Scindia, former Rajasthan CM and tallest BJP leader in the state, has been missing in action in the developments in Jaipur. A source close to Raje said she did not want to be part of the developments since the party leadership “did not keep her informed about the events, nor did they have any discussions with her”. According to the source, she did not want to take “credit” for disrupting the government, as she “would not like to take the blame if it does not see positive results”.

10:24 (IST)18 Jul 2020
'Is it not a sensitive and legal issue': BJP on phone tapping

Patra continued: "These are serious questions that we want to ask the Rajasthan Congress and Ashok Gehlot. 1. Was phone taping done? The Congress govt in Rajasthan must answer. 2. Is it not a sensitive and legal issue, if phone taping has been done? 4. Did the Congress govt in Rajasthan use unconstitutional ways to save themselves when they found themselves cornered? 5. Is phone of any person who is related to politics is being tapped?" He added: "Phone tapping can only be done by authorized agencies as per due process of law and subject to approve safe-guards and SOPs. Each case is also reviewed by a committee chaired by a Cabinet Secretary in case of Central and State Secretary in case of a state government."

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At the hearing at the Rajasthan High Court on Friday that remained inconclusive, the MLAs contended that the disqualification notices per se were unconstitutional. Second, that as per settled principles of the Rajasthan Vidhan Sabha rules, they had to be given at least a seven-day period to reply to the notices.

The MLAs also argued that the Speaker had taken the decision in “haste”, and pointed out that around 10 months on, no notice has been issued in a case pertaining to the merger of BSP MLAs with the Congress. They also accused the Speaker of malice.

The petition by the MLAs makes Joshi as well as the office of the Speaker and the Assembly Secretary parties to the case. They say no offence has been made out against them, and that the disqualification notices on the ground of defection go against their right to freedom of speech.

While the MLAs were represented by former Solicitor General of India Harish Salve and ex-Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, among others, Rajasthan Advocate General M S Singhvi and Abhishek Manu Singhvi were part of the team that appeared for the respondents.

Arguing on behalf of the Speaker, Abhishek Singhvi said the Speaker “is the master of procedure”, and that the notice period “is not a constitutionally prescribed period”.

About the MLAs’ contention that the whip was not applicable to them outside the House and that Joshi was biased, Singhvi said the Speaker’s actions were not mala fide. “… the Speaker can per se look at allegations of speech and activities outside the House and doing so is not mala fide and (is) within the contours of the Constitution. In fact, Speakers across state legislatures have done so in a manner consistent with the Tenth Schedule (that covers defection) and in cases identical to the current one.”

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