All six Rajasthan BSP MLAs join Congress

Jaipur: In a big jolt to Mayawati's Bahujan Samajwadi Party (BSP) in Rajasthan, all of its six MLAs have joined the Congress. With this merger, the Congress now has 106 seats in the 200-seated Assembly.

In a surprising move, the state Assembly was opened at 10.30 p.m. on Monday for the six MLAs who submitted their letter to Assembly speaker C.P. Joshi there.

The MLAs included Rajendra Guda, Jogendra Avana, Wajib Ali, Lakhan Singh Meena, Sandeep Yadav and Deepchand Kheriya.

These six MLAs have been in constant touch with Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot. And on Monday night before heading to the Assembly they again met him.

Earlier, BSP was giving support to the Congress from outside. The BSP state president Seetaram Meghwal and state-in-charge Dharamveer Ashok expressed ignorance to the entire development. "Had we known, we would have never allowed this to happen," they said.

Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot said: "The decision of the six MLAs should be welcomed as they have clean intentions. We shall work together to take Rajasthan on the path of development."

C.P. Joshi said: "We received the letter of merger from these six MLAs and there is no legal challenge in this."

However, BJP state President Satish Poonia said that the entire development shows insecurity of Gehlot because Congress had a thin majority in the Assembly and Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot was criticising his own government on the law and order situation, indirectly questioning the Chief Minister's working style as he holds the home portfolio.

Sources confirmed that this merger would help the Congress in the ensuing Panchayat and Civic elections. But at the same time, there are apprehensions that this may lead to infighting within the Congress as the BSP leaders have been promised plush positions which some senior Congress leaders have been hoping to get.

The State Assembly now has -- 106 Congress MLAs, 72 BJP MLAs, 13 Independents, 2 Bharatiya Tribal Party (BTP), 2 CPI(M), 1 Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) and 2 Rashtriya Loktantrik Party (RLP). Two seats are vacant presently as the MLAs became MPs and by-polls are awaited.

A decade back a similar situation had arisen in the state when six BSP MLAs had joined the Congress government which included Giriraj Singh, Raj Kumar Sharma, Ramkesh Meena, Ramesh Meena, Rajendra Guda and Murarilal Meena.

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