Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot on Saturday met Governor Kalraj Mishra at Raj Bhavan in Jaipur shortly after two MLAs of the Bharatiya Tribal Party (BTP) handed over their letter of support to him.
Sources said Gehlot informed Mishra about the support extended by the two lawmakers and claimed a majority amid the political crisis in the state after Gehlot's deputy Sachin Pilot raised the flag of revolt against him. Pilot was later sacked from his position as deputy chief minister and chief of the party's state unit.
But an official statement from the Raj Bhavan made no mention of the crisis, describing the meeting between Gehlot and Mishra as a "courtesy meeting". A Raj Bhavan spokesperson said during the meeting, which lasted for about 45 minutes, Gehlot briefed the governor about the efforts being taken to protect the state from the coronavirus pandemic.
राजभवन पहुंचकर राज्यपाल महोदय श्री @KalrajMishra जी से शिष्टाचार भेंट की एवं प्रदेश सरकार द्वारा कोरोना वैश्विक महामारी से बचाव के लिए किये जा रहे प्रयासों के बारे में जानकारी दी। pic.twitter.com/Q0pVQ62Dsq— Ashok Gehlot (@ashokgehlot51) July 18, 2020
Earlier, the two BTP MLAs addressed a joint press conference with state Congress chief Govind Singh Dotasara, extending their support to the Gehlot-led government.
The BTP's support came as a shot in the arm for Gehlot who was asked by Leader of Opposition in Assembly, Gulab Chand Kataria, to prove his majority.
Meanwhile, BJP leader and former Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje also broke her silence on the political crisis, saying, "It is unfortunate that the people of Rajasthan have to bear the brunt of the infighting in Congress...They are attempting to put the blame on BJP," she said. "Public interest should be paramount for the Rajasthan government, the Congress is trying to shift the blame on the BJP and the BJP leadership."
BTP legislators Rajkumar Roat and Ramprasad asserted that their party's president and other leaders have agreed on extending support to the Gehlot government on the condition that demands related to development of the state are fulfilled.
The BTP on Monday had issued a whip asking Roat and Ramprasad to be neutral and neither support the Congress nor the BJP. It had also told them to neither support Gehlot nor Pilot in case of a floor test in the assembly.
"BTP MLAs and their party leaders held discussions with the chief minister. They were already with us and have reassured their support to the Ashok Gehlot government," Dotasara said at the press conference outside a hotel on the Delhi highway where the Congress has kept MLAs amid the political crisis.
The MLAs were shifted to Hotel Fairmont on Monday soon after a Congress legislature party meeting, where Congress lawmakers expressed support for Gehlot and only indirectly referred to Pilot, whose rebellion threatens the state government. Pilot was stripped of the posts of Rajasthan's deputy chief minister and the party's state unit president on Tuesday.
"We had supported the Congress in the Rajya Sabha elections (last month) on the condition that our demands related to the development of our areas will be met. We have again held discussions with the chief minister on those demands and we have been assured that the demands will be fulfilled," said Roat, adding the party president had issued a whip directing them to stay neutral but now the party is in support of the government.
Roat, who recently issued two videos alleging that policemen were not allowing him to go from his Jaipur MLA residence to his constituency in Dungarpur district, said it happened due to misunderstanding by the police.
"I do not know what they had in mind. They said it was a misunderstanding. It's okay now," he said.
In the videos, one police inspector was seen taking away the keys from his car, which was surrounded by two police vans.
Ramprasad said the BTP is against any attempt to topple an elected government. "We are into issue-based politics. Toppling an elected government by BJP is not fair," he said reaffirming support to the Gehlot government.
In the house of 200, Congress has 107 MLAs, including 19 of those who have been issued notices of disqualification by the assembly speaker on complaint by chief whip Mahesh Joshi. The party claims that the Gehlot government has 109 MLAs, including Congress, independents and other supporting party legislators, in its support to run the government.
(With inputs from agencies)