By Archana Sharma
Even as the battle of one-upmanship between two Congress camps led by Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and his deputy Sachin Pilot plays out in the open, state Congress leaders are busy working the numbers and calculating permutations and combinations to ensure the party’s government remains safe.
The Congress strength in 200-member Assembly is 102, with its Rashtriya Lok Dal alliance having one MLA. After 6 Bahujan Samaj Party MLAs joined the Congress, the ruling party’s score in the House climbed up to 108. Support of 13 Independents, 2 Bharatiya Tribal Party and two CPI-M MLAs, its tally stands at 125.
Meanwhile, the BJP has 72 MLAs, with 3 lawmakers from alliance partner Rashtriya Loktantrik Party.
Party sources confirmed that around 20-25 MLAs could back Pilot and if they leave the party, the Congress numbers will fall under 100 while the BJP numbers will touch 100.
So, the situation remains interesting in Rajasthan.
On the other hand, BJP state President Satish Poonia told IANS that the ongoing crisis within the Congress was created by the party itself and was due to infighting. “We have no role in it,” he said.
PCC Vice-President Archana Sharma told IANS that Gehlot has the numbers and the state government is in safe hands.
Meanwhile, Pilot is in Delhi and requested for an appointment with Congress chief Sonia Gandhi to discuss the “challenges faced by his team due to the high-handedness of Gehlot”.
As he waits for an appointment, Gehlot has been keeping a tab on his MLAs and Ministers in Rajasthan and asking about their locations on phone.
Security at the inter-state borders has been enhanced and MLA movement continuously monitored.
What raises apprehensions in the entire episode is the absence of Ministers from the pilot camp at a Saturday night meeting called by Gehlot.
One of Pilot’s favourites and Tourism Minister Vishvendra Singh has since left for Delhi, though he tweeted that he was to meet his sister.
The MLAs camping in Delhi in a show of solidarity with Pilot include GR Khatana, Murarilal Meena, Rakesh Pareek, PR Meena, Harish Meena, Indraj Gurjar, Ramniwas Gawadiya, Prashant Bairwa, Chetan Dudi, Jahida Khan, Rohit Behra, Danish Abrar, Mukesh Bhakar, Sudarshan Rawat, and Amar Singh Jatav.
so, while all eyes are now focused on what all action the Congress high command will take to keep the MLAs united, eager party loyalists are busy counting and recounting the numbers on their fingertips and assuring themselves that the Gehlot government will survive the political turmoil.