Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and other senior Congress leaders once again on Thursday went into a huddle with party MLAs at a Jaipur resort to discuss the strategy for the upcoming Rajya Sabha polls. The meeting started at Jaipur’s Shiv Vilas resort around 10 PM after Gehlot arrived at the venue for discussions.
It is second such meeting in the past two days that has taken place after the ruling Congress in Rajasthan alleged attempts by the BJP to topple its government in the state.
Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot had accused the BJP of horse trading on Wednesday night, alleging that some of the party MLAs were offered Rs 25 crore each.
The party had taken its MLAs and the Independents backing the state government to the Jaipur resort for a meeting on Wednesday too. Two Bhartiya Tribal Party MLAs also reached the resort for the meeting on Thursday. Congress MLA Shakunta Rawat said the legislators will be staying in the resort.
However, state Transport Minister Pratap Singh Khachariawas described the meeting as a legislators’ ‘get together’ and said it should not be ‘seen as a camp’.
According to sources, nearly 110 MLAs belonging to the Congress and the Independents are present in the meeting.
Earlier in the day, state Congress president and Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot had said the party has the numbers and its both candidates will win the upcoming Rajya Sabha polls scheduled for June 19.
“I want to make it clear that the Congress Party has adequate mandate, support of Independents and other parties. Both of our candidates will win the elections,” Pilot said.
“Before elections, many kind of talks surface but all are aware of ground realities and the numbers,” he said.
Pilot said the party had earlier won the assembly bypolls and now its candidates will win the Rajya Sabha polls as well.
“No one should doubt it and those who are spreading myths, be of any party or group, are intentionally creating an atmosphere that there is a big struggle here. The party MLAs are united,” he said.
On calling the Congress MLAs to a resort for the meeting, he said the party has the experience of ‘incidents’ happening in other states, like some MLAs resigned in Gujarat.
“People are making attempts. But people in Rajasthan are united and sincere. We have a mandate. Even Independents and other parties are supporting us. There are no chances of the BJP’s second candidate’s win,” he said.
Meanwhile, state government’s chief whip Mahesh Joshi also exuded confidence of winning two of the three seats.
“We will not let the BJP’s plan succeed; we will not allow horse trading or corruption. The Congress MLAs are united,”
said Joshi, who on Wednesday had lodged a complaint with the Anti-Corruption Bureau against alleged attempts to poach party MLAs.
AICC general secretary Avinash Pande too said attempts have been made by opposition leaders to give the MLAs ‘lucrative’ offers.
“They (MLAs) themselves felt that we should all be together and remain at one place,” Pande told reporters.
He said within the Congress, legislative party members are responsible and are one under the leadership of national president Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot.
“This meeting is not just about assuring our win in the Rajya Sabha polls but to hold discussions and understand the roadmap for the coronavirus pandemic,” he said.
The Congress has nominated K C Venugopal and Neeraj Dangi for the Rajya Sabha elections scheduled for June 19 while the BJP has fielded Rajendra Gehlot and Onkar Singh Lakhawat. In the assembly of 200, the Congress has 107 MLAs, including six those who defected to the party from the BSP last year. The party enjoys the support of 12 of the 13 Independent MLAs in the state.