Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot’s allegations about horse-trading and a Rs 20-crore deal with the BJP has raised the hackles in the Sachin Pilot camp. A former minister and another leader have stepped forward to refresh Mr Gehlot’s memory about the time MLAs from Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party joined the Congress.
“Today they say that there is talk of crores of “len-den” (give and take). I want to ask the Chief Minister — how much money was paid to us when I joined the Congress? Tell the truth. There was deceit and they told us there will be growth,” said former minister Ramesh Meena, who was one of the leaders who made the switch.
BSP MLAs have twice left their parties and merged with the Congress, “both times at Mr Gehlot’s behest,” said Mr Meena. In his first tenure, Mr Gehlot inducted four BSP legislators into the Congress, in his second, another six.
The last series of defections, which took place in September last year, had left Mayawati furious. The BSP chief had posted a series of tweets, accusing the Congress of buying her MLAs.
“The people of Rajasthan call Ashok Gehlot a magician. The kind of allegations he made against us show he really8 is. Magicians can spread all kinds of delusions among the public,” said Murari Lal Meena, the MLA from Dausa who is part of Mr Pilot’s team.
“Today, they accused us of corruption. That has really hurt us. I want to ask when we came from BSP, how much money did we take from him? Then he used to give speeches how we were so honest. I want to ask how come we are now corrupt?” he said.
Earlier today, Mr Gehlot reiterated his allegations of horse trading by the BJP ahead of the Rajya Sabha elections. But this time, he accused Mr Pilot, his former deputy, of being implicated.
The Chief Minister, whose government was pushed to the brink of collapse following Mr Pilot’s rebellion, said, “The former PCC chief was involved in dealings with BJP. I have proof of horse-trading”.
“Money was offered. And who gave the clarification that nothing was happening? Those who were themselves part of the conspiracy are giving clarifications,” Mr Gehlot was quoted as saying by news agency Press Trust of India.
It was police summons to Mr Pilot for an investigation into the alleged “horsetrading” that triggered his rebellion over the weekend.
Sources close to the 42-year-old leader said it was a huge humiliation for him. Mr Gehlot had tried to play down the summons, saying he received one too, but Mr Pilot’s team had dismissed it as an eyewash, since the Mr Gehlot, as the in-charge of the home ministry, was the boss of the investigation team.
His comments came as the signs of “disengagement” came from the ebel faction, with Mr Pilot asserting that he is not joining the BJP. The Congress, which had stripped him of his posts in the govenment and the party, said he should prove it by moving out of BJP-ruled Haryana and going to Jaipur.