Amidst the political crisis that has emerged in Rajasthan in the last couple of days, Congress MLAs were seen engaging in ‘resort politics‘ yet again. Following the Congress Legislature Party meeting at the residence of Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, Congress MLAs were spotted boarding buses en route to the Fairmont hotel.
The legislators were accompanied by the Chief Minister as well. While boarding one of the buses, Minister Mamta Bhupesh announced, “All is well.” Earlier, the Rajasthan Congress claimed that attempts are being made to destabilise the Congress-led government by luring MLAs ahead of the Rajya Sabha elections. Following the scare, the Congress party has also shifted its 107 Congress and independent MLAs to a resort on the outskirts of Jaipur.
Congress Legislature passes ‘resolution’
As per reports, the Congress Legislature Party meeting began at 1:30 pm, three hours behind the schedule, at the residence of Ashok Gehlot. The MLAs were also seen waving and displaying victory signs to the press. The grand old party passed a resolution reiterating ‘full support’ to the State government.
The resolution condemned the BJP of luring its MLAs and hurting India’s democracy. “Fearful of the impeccable work of the Congress party, the BJP has conspired to destabilise the State government, indulge in horse-trading, purchasing loyalty through money power and murdering democracy. The BJP seems to have not learnt its lesson from the Rajya Sabha results,” the resolution read.
The resolution further stated, “We condemn the undemocratic intent and conspiracy to weaken the Congress party… If any Congress member is found indulging in anti-party activities, then, strict disciplinary action will be initiated against the said person. Our party is united in the service of the people of Rajasthan.”
Reportedly, top Congress leaders such as Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi, Ahmed Patel, P Chidambaram and KC Venugopal have been in touch with the ‘rebel’ Sachin Pilot for the past 72 hours and has left the party doors ‘open’ for him. Referring to the Congress party as a ‘family’, spokesman Randeep Surjewala said that issues arising in a family must be solved within the family.
Confusion over Congress Strength
Ever since the Congress Legislature meeting has concluded, there has been confusion over the number of MLAs who are supportive of the current political dispensation in Rajasthan. As per the News 18 report, the meeting was attended by 102 MLAs. The BJP has about 72 MLAs in the House of 200 members.
However, Swarajya reported that at least 18 Congress MLAs were missing from the meeting held at the residence of Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot. The report further stated that about 100 MLAs were present in total while the Congress party has a strength of 107 MLAs in the State assembly.
The report added that about 11 independent MLAs were also a part of the Congress party meeting. The same claim that the meeting was attended by about 100 MLAs was also reiterated in a report in The Hindu. The confusion over the Congress strength further accentuated when ANI tweeted that the meeting was attended by about 107 MLAs.
#Rajasthan : Buses seen outside the residence of Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot in Jaipur.— ANI (@ANI) July 13, 2020
Congress Legislative Party (CLP) meeting is underway here, 107 MLAs present at the meet. pic.twitter.com/0D2gayciYG
Ashok Gehlot lost majority, claims Sachin Pilot
The struggle between deputy CM Sachin Pilot and Chief Minister of Rajasthan Ashok Gehlot has come to a point where Pilot has claimed that the state government is no longer in the majority. The State police had registered an FIR against him for allegedly ‘plotting to topple the government’. Sachin Pilot had claimed that he has the support of 30 Congress MLAs along with some independent ones. Ashok Gehlot dismissed his claims by citing the ‘party strength’ based on the number of attendees at the Congress Legislature Party.
Following Gehlot’s strong denial of a loss of majority, ANI reported that the rebel Congress leader has told the Chief Minister that ‘majority’ has to be proven on the floor of the House and not in the back garden of Gehlot’s residence. Sachin Pilot stated, “If they have numbers as claimed, then, why not do a headcount? Take them to the Governor instead of moving them to the hotel.”
Ashok Gehlot govt doesn’t have numbers they claim. CM’s back garden isn’t the place to prove majority, it’s done in Assembly. If they have numbers as claimed then why not do a head count, take them to Guv instead of moving them to hotel?: Sources close to Sachin Pilot (file pic) pic.twitter.com/lDoUM8zsOH— ANI (@ANI) July 13, 2020
Following the 2018 Rajasthan Assembly elections, a power tussle ensued between Congress’ old guard Ashok Gehlot and youth leader Sachin pilot for the coveted post of the Chief Minister. Eventually, Gehlot was made the CM, and Pilot was sidelined. The divide between the two factions, within the State government, seemed to have widened over time.