First, a split in Rajasthan Congress prompted Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and his former deputy Sachin Pilot to keep their respective MLAs in safe houses to ensure that no one jumped the ship. Now, opposition BJP seems to have joined the same path to keep its numbers intact ahead of the August 14 special assembly session.
The saffron party packed a batch of 20 MLAs from Udaipur and Jaipur to Gujarat along with a few party functionaries. The legislators visited the Somnath temple and offered prayers there. The party called it a sightseeing tour.
The MLAs are expected to return by August 13. The BJP has 72 legislators in the 200-member Rajasthan assembly. Sources said the rest would also be sent to Gujarat. The tree RLP legislators that are supporting the BJP will be kept at another location. Sachin Pilot has 18 MLAs in his camp.
The BJP does not want to take any chances before a possible floor test and is willing to go to all lengths to keep its numbers intact. There had been reports that some BJP MLAs had received ‘offers’ from the Congress. The decision to move out the MLAs has been taken by the party high command, said the source.
BJP’s Phulera MLA Nirmal Kumawat told the media at Jaipur airport: “This is being done to keep our people safe from the Congress. There were reports that some of our MLAs were being contacted.”
The BJP had been attacking the Congress for confining its MLAs in resorts and hotels. Now, it has been forced to swallow its words. BJP state president Satish Poonia said, “Chief Minister Gehlot has been levelling allegations at the BJP and accusing our party of horse-trading. Now, the BJP is sending its MLAs out of the state for safe keeping so doesn't the same logic apply to him? Will he level similar accusations at himself?”
The MLAs that have been sent are Dharam Narayan Joshi, Jagsiram Koli, Samaram Garasia, Phool Singh Meena, Amritlal Meena, Pratap Gameti, Babulal Kharadi, Arjun Lal Jeengar, Gopichand Meena, Kailash Meena, Harendra Ninama, Gopal Sharma Khandelal, Jabbar Singh Sankhla, Gopichand Meena, Dharmendra Mochi, Gurdeep Singh and Nirmal Kumawat.