Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot on Saturday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take stock of the happenings in Rajasthan, where a political crisis has rumbled on for most of last month. The Congress-led state government has accused the BJP of "horse trading" and trying to topple it.
"The Prime Minister should stop the 'tamasha' going on in Rajasthan. The rate for horse-trading has increased here. What 'tamasha' is this?" Gehlot asked on Saturday.
Gehlot also said he is open to welcoming back the Congress rebels led by Sachin Pilot.
Asked if the dissidents will be forgiven, he said, "It depends on the party high command. If the party high command forgives, I shall embrace them."
Since the power tussle between him and Pilot resurfaced last month, the Congress veteran has used harsh words against his former deputy, once even referring to him as 'nikamma' or useless. But Gehlot said he will do whatever the Congress leadership wants. He said the party trusted him and he has been a Union minister, AICC general secretary, state unit president and chief minister for a third time.
"What else do I want? I am doing this to serve the public," he told reporters in Jaisalmer.
Gehlot was on his way back to Jaipur after an overnight stay at Jaisalmer's Suryagarh resort where loyalist MLAs have been shifted ahead of the assembly session from August 14.
The Congress has accused the BJP of playing a major role in the rebellion by the now sacked deputy chief minister and 18 other Congress MLAs who are threatening his government.
"We have no personal quarrel with anyone. In a democracy, fights happen over ideology, policies and programmes and not for toppling a government. Modi should get the drama which is going on in Rajasthan ended," said Gehlot outside the hotel where the MLAs were shifted on Friday.
Gehlot said Union minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat should resign on moral grounds, claiming his involvement in a "conspiracy" to topple the Rajasthan government is now known. He said Shekhawat's name also cropped up in a cooperative society scam in which money from poor people was looted.
Gehlot also alleged that some other Union ministers, including Dharmendra Pradhan, are involved in the "conspiracy" against his government.
Gehlot and other Rajasthan ministers are likely to spend most of their time in the state capital as the Congress tries to keep its numbers intact in Jaisalmer. Including the 19 rebels, the Congress has 107 MLAs in the 200-member assembly. The BJP has 72 MLAs.
Gehlot claimed that democracy is under threat in the country and the Union Home Ministry is after his government in the state. He repeated the charge that the "rate" for trying to lure MLAs away has gone up after the announcement of the assembly session.
Back in Jaipur, Gehlot said Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati is giving statements "under pressure" and asserted that all six BSP MLAs lawfully merged with the Congress in Rajasthan last year. The BSP recently challenged the merger in the high court, prompting the Congress to charge that the party made the move at the behest of the BJP.
(With inputs from PTI)