The grand old party's senior-most leader in Rajasthan, Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, saved the day for his party getting two party members – national general secretary KC Venugopal and state general secretary Neeraj Dangi – elected to the Upper House of Parliament.
After two party MLAs resigned from the party earlier this month, senior party leaders had levelled allegations against the BJP of poaching its MLAs and destabilising the elected government. BJP's Rajendra Gehlot was also elected as a Rajya Sabha member on Friday.
Gehlot bundled the MLAs to a posh hotel – JW Marriott – in the state capital of Jaipur and saw to it that his party got its two nominees to the Rajya Sabha in accordance with its strength in the state Assembly, while also surviving the alleged conspiracy against the government he leads.
On Friday, he led the MLAs, who arrived at the voting centre in five buses, to the counting centre.
The BJP too levelled the same accusations against the state ruling party and shifted its MLAs to Crowne Plaza hotel.
While Venugopal got 64 votes, Dangi won with 59 votes. BJP’s Gehlot received 54 votes and its second candidate Onkar Singh Lakhawat got only 20 votes. A total of 198 valid votes of a total of 200 votes were counted.
In the 200-member Rajasthan Assembly, the Congress has 107 MLAs and the support of Independent legislators and MLAs of other parties such as the Rashtriya Lok Dal, CPI(M) and Bharatiya Tribal Party (BTP).
Given the number of MLAs in the two parties, arithmetic was in 2-1 in favour of Congress. But BJP went on to declare a second candidate Onkar Singh Lakhawat, but could not muster enough votes in his support. The Congress got a total of 123 votes, while the BJP registered a total of 74 votes in favour of its candidates.
While the party general secretary Venugopal is considered close to the central party leadership, Dangi is the Dalit face of the party and believed to be a trusted aide of CM Gehlot.
With Friday’s results, the BJP now has seven out of 10 Rajya Sabha members from Rajasthan, including party general secretary Bhupender Yadav, while Congress has the remaining three, the third being former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.