Rajsthan game deepens, now BJP sends dozen MLAs to Gujarat resort

If the BJP central leadership supports Sachin Pilot, Vasundhara Raje, who has about 50 loyalists among the 72 party’s MLAs, would oppose the move. This would create a vertical split in the state BJP

Rajasthan Vidhan Sabha
Rajasthan Vidhan Sabha

Prakash Bhandari

The political crisis in Rajasthan is deepening with the sudden panic in the BJP camp. The BJP has sent a dozen of its MLAs fearing poaching after the Rajasthan High Court verdict on August 11. If the High Court refrain the six BSP MLAs from voting till the pendency of the petition filed by the BSP and the BJP, this would cause loss of numbers to the Congress and it will have to muster the support of other MLAs to save the government.

Of the five BJP MLAs - Amrit Lal Meena, Babu Lal Kharadi, Dharam Narayan Joshi, Phool Singh Meena and Pratap Gameti - except for Joshi, all others are tribal MLAs. The BJP feared that under the influence of the Bhartiya Tribal Party (BTP) leader Chhotu Bhai Varosa of Gujarat, tribal MLAs would either not vote in favour of the BJP in case of a floor test or abstain from voting.

The BTP has two MLAs in the House and both have pledged their support to the Congress. Two more BJP MLAs from Jalore and Sirohi are expected to be shifted to a resort near Ahmedabad where they have been kept under the watchful eyes of senior BJP functionaries of Gujarat. These MLAs would be taken to the Somnath Temple on Sunday. On Friday, Vasundhara Raje met BJP president J P Nadda in Delhi and apprised him about the current political situation in the state. On the same day, Union Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, a political adversary of Vasundhara Raje, also met Nadda. Vasundhara is unhappy the way she was kept out of the strategic meetings by the state leaders. She also expressed her displeasure over the way state BJP president Satish Punia formed the state executive. All supporters of Vasundhara Raje were kept out.

Vasundhara is against extending any support to the dissident group led by Sachin Pilot and she has even issued a statement that no government which has been democratically elected should be toppled through horse-trading. She has been supported by former Speaker Kailash Meghwal.

Vasundhara is hell-bent on opposing any move to support Pilot in case the Ashok Gehlot government falls in the state in the floor test. If the BJP central leadership supports Pilot, Vasundhara, who has about 50 loyalists among the 72 party’s MLAs, would oppose the move. This would create a vertical split in the state BJP and Vasundhara Raje is capable of effecting it.

A cautious party leadership in Delhi has sent instructions to state leaders that all BJP MLAs, supporting Independents and three allies should be kept in a hotel and they should be allowed to go out only after the Assembly session gets over.

Leader of Opposition in the Rajasthan Assembly Gulab Chand Kataria has admitted that the post-August 11 situation would make each vote precious and the BJP has only ensured that its MLAs are not subjected to horse-trading. But the BJP leadership is watching the moves of Vasundhara Raje with their fingers crossed.

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