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BJP Delayed Rajya Sabha Elections to Buy Time for Horse-Trading, Says Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot

File photo of Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot.

File photo of Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot.

Elections for three Rajya Sabha seats will be held in Rajasthan with BJP’s Rajya Sabha members Ram Narain Dudi, Vijay Goel and Narayan Lal Panchariya retiring.

Jaipur: Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot on Friday accused the BJP of deliberately delaying Rajya Sabha elections by two months, saying the party was buying time to complete “its horse-trading” in the state.

“The Rajya Sabha elections could have been conducted two months ago, but it was postponed for no reason because the BJP's horse-trading was not complete” the CM said, adding that candidates it has put up for two seats will emerge victorious.

“We are united. Not a single vote of our MLAs will go to anyone else in the Rajya Sabha elections and our two candidates will emerge victorious. Two CPI(M) MLAs will support us in the election,” Gehlot said, adding a complaint has been filed with the state's Special Operation Group for investigation into the matter.

Gehlot, however, refused to disclose names of those behind the toppling bids allegedly involving transfer of money for horse trading.

"A complaint has been lodged with the SOG so that investigation about those who are involved in this organised crime of money transfer could be conducted," Gehot said at a press conference at a hotel on Delhi highway. He said what happened in Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh is known to all, and now it is being tried here in Rajasthan.

"If the BJP leaders are making calls to the Congress and independent MLAs, what should we call this?" he asked.

Asked about Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot's statement that he received no complaint regarding horse trading, Gehlot asserted he is the chief minister and if something comes to his notice, it must have come from a source. "How can we disclose this?" he asked.

The ruling party's Chief whip Mahesh Joshi has already filed a complaint with the Anti-Corruption Bureau seeking action against those allegedly trying to topple the state government.

On Wednesday, Gehlot had stated that a huge amount of cash had been transferred to Jaipur and attempts were being made to play a game of poaching MLAs akin to that in MP. The chief minister had rued that the BJP's central leadership was engaged in sabotage activities amid the corona crisis.

"They toppled the government in Madhya Pradesh and are now making conspiracy in Rajasthan. They have been exposed among the public," he said.

The chief minister said two persons -- Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah -- were taking all decisions which is not a good tradition in a democracy. He said the democracy was being murdered in the country and the government had put all its force to topple the government in Madhya Pradesh.

Elections for three Rajya Sabha seats will be held in Rajasthan with BJP’s Rajya Sabha members Ram Narain Dudi, Vijay Goel and Narayan Lal Panchariya retiring.

The elections was initially scheduled to be held on March 26 but was postponed as India went into lockdown following the coronavirus pandemic. Voting will now take place on June 19.

The Congress has nominated K C Venugopal and Neeraj Dangi for the elections while the BJP has fielded Rajendra Gehlot and Onkar Singh Lakhawat.

Observers had said the contest in Rajasthan was more or less clear, with two of the three seats expected to go Congress' way and BJP winning the remaining seat. However, by fielding two candidates, the BJP has complicated matters and has reportedly spooked the Congress leadership.

With its numbers, the Congress currently looks comfortable. However, if the BJP manages to gain support of the 12 Independents, it might have a shot at getting its second candidate elected as well.

According to experts, a similar strategy is being followed in Gujarat, where over seven of Congress' MLAs have resigned in the past few months.

first published:June 12, 2020, 13:37 IST