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Congress Suspends 2 Rebel MLAs Over Leaked Audio Tapes as CM Gehlot Gets Shot in Arm

Randeep Singh Surjewala in Rajasthan. (News18)

Randeep Singh Surjewala in Rajasthan. (News18)

Based on the transcript of the purported conversations read by Surjewala at a Press Conference in Jaipur, the Congress suspended party two party MLAs Bhanwar Lal Sharma and Vishvendra Singh.

Six days after Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot set the ball rolling with sensational claims about attempts being made to topple his government, the high-stakes political drama in the state refuses to die down.

On Friday morning, Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala, citing a leaked audio clip, demanded an investigation into the alleged horse-trading and an FIR against Union minister and Jodhpur MP Gajendra Shekhawat for attempts to topple Ashok Gehlot government's in Rajasthan. Based on the transcript of the purported conversations read by Surjewala at a Press Conference in Jaipur, the Congress suspended two party MLAs Bhanwar Lal Sharma and Vishvendra Singh.

The Rajasthan police registered an FIR against the Union minister as well as rebel Congress MLA Bhanwar Lal Sharma over allegations of their involvement in a bid to topple the state government.

"We demand an FIR be registered against Union minister Gajendra Shekhawat. The matter be investigated by the Special Operation Group or SOG, and if there is an apprehension of any attempt to influence the investigation, a warrant be issued for the arrest," Surjewala had said in the press conference.

Two Congress MLAs - Pilot loyalist Vishvendra Singh, who was sacked from the Cabinet, and Bhanwar Lal Sharma - have been suspended from the party and show cause notices have been issued to both.

Pilot loyalists Sharma and Vishvendra are among the 19 Congress MLAs who have approached the Rajasthan high court against the notice issued by the Speaker on Congress' petition seeking their disqualification from the state assembly.

Surjewala once again asked Pilot - the leader of the dissident group - to make his stand clear on the current political crisis and respond to the allegations of horse-trading.

A total of three audio clips started doing rounds late on Thursday evening. Soon after the audio clips began circulating on social media, MLA Bhawar Lal posted a tweet saying, “Fake audio clips have been released in my name. It is not my voice in these audio clips. I have not spoken to any leader. This is a ploy to malign my name by releasing fake audios.”

Meanwhile, in a shot in the arm for Gehlot government, Bhartiya Tribal Party, which has two MLAs in the 200 member assembly has allied itself with the Congress and promised its support to the ruling state government.

The other big development that will be keenly watched on Friday will be the hearing in the High Court on the amended petition moved by Sachin Pilot and 18 other dissident leaders who moved the high court challenging the notices from the Rajasthan Speaker to disqualify them from the state assembly.

The matter is scheduled to be heard before a division bench of the Rajasthan High Court at 1 pm on Friday, which is also the “deadline” that the Speaker's office gave to the MLAs to file their replies to the notices.