Jaipur: Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot on Sunday claimed he survived the 2020-revolt by some Congress MLAs because BJP leaders Vasundhara Raje and Kailash Meghwal refused to support a conspiracy to topple an elected government through money power.
Raje, a former chief minister, however, said that ”Gehlot’s ‘praises’ is a big conspiracy” against her and the Congress leader was speaking lies due to rebellion in his party.
He also took potshots at the rebel Congress MLAs, saying they should return the money they had taken from the BJP so that they can carry out their duty without any pressure.
Gehlot’s then deputy Sachin Pilot and 18 other Congress MLAs had revolted against his leadership in July 2020. The month-long crisis ended after the intervention of the party high command. Pilot was then removed as the deputy chief minister and state Congress president.
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Addressing a programme in Dholpur, Gehlot said he as the state party chief, did not support the toppling of the BJP government led by Bhairon Singh Shekhawat as it was unfair, in the same manner, Raje and Meghwal said that there is no tradition in Rajasthan to topple an elected government.
Meghwal is a former speaker of the state assembly and is currently an MLA.
”If I wanted, Bhairon Singh ji’s government could have been toppled. I said this was unethical work. The man who is ill, he is getting treatment in America, his condition was very critical and leaders of his party were conspiring to topple his government behind him,” Gehlot said.
He continued, ”Kailash Meghwal and Vasundhara Raje also said the same thing. They said that we have never had a tradition to bring down elected governments on money power… what wrong did he do?” Gehlot also praised MLA Shobharani Kushwah who had cross-voted in favour of the Congress candidate in the Rajya Sabha election last year.
Dholpur MLA Kushwah was subsequently suspended by the BJP for cross-voting.
She was a bold lady, the chief minister said and added that ”when Shobharani supported us, it shocked BJP leaders”.
Gehlot claimed that she listened to Raje and Meghwal and her conscience said that she should not support ”those people”.
”That’s why our government was saved. I can never forget this incident in my life, which had happened with me,” he said.
Terming Gehlot’s ”praises” for her as a big conspiracy, Raje in a statement on Sunday night said he ”has made such outrageous and untrue allegations because of the rebellion happening in his own party and diminishing mass base”.
The BJP leader said that no one can insult her as much as Gehlot did in his life. To avoid a historic defeat in the 2023 assembly elections, he is creating such fabricated stories, which is unfortunate and not going to be successful, Raje said.
Gehlot and Raje have often been accused by their detractors in their own parties of ”going soft” on each other, especially when it came to allegations of corruption.
The two leaders have denied any such understanding. A few days ago, Raje had rejected allegations of collusion with Gehlot as lie, saying milk and lemon juice never mix.
Gehlot also alleged that Union Ministers Amit Shah, Gajendra Singh Shekhawat and Dharmendra Pradhan had conspired together to topple his government.
”They distributed money in Rajasthan and they are not taking the money back now. I am surprised why they are not demanding the money back from them (the Congress MLAs who had revolted),” he claimed.
”I have even told the MLAs that whatever money they have taken, Rs 10 crore or Rs 20 crore, if you have spent anything, I will give that part or I will get it from AICC (All India Congress Committee),” he said.
Gehlot alleged that if the MLAs did not return the money, they will always be under pressure from Shah. ”He is the Union home minister, he will intimidate…in Maharashtra he divided Shiv Sena,” he alleged.
In her statement, Raje also said giving and accepting bribes are crimes and if Congress MLAs have taken money, then FIR should be lodged. Gehlot has accused Home Minister Shah but Shah’s honesty and integrity is well known, she said.
In his address, Gehlot said that he was made the chief minister by the party for a third time and it was his duty to take all along and forget past happenings and ensure the return of the party to power in the assembly elections, slated for later this year.
The Congress leader was addressing the programme in the home turf Raje.
Gehlot also praised Congress MLAs Rohit Bohra, Chetan Dudi and Danish Abrar for alerting him about the revolt against his government in 2020.
He said that these three MLAs, BSP-turned-Congress MLAs and independent MLAs who had supported him and saved his government during the political crisis in 2020 deserved to be made ministers in his government but he could not do so due to political reasons and was sad about it.