Jaipur/ New Delhi:
Ahead of the Rajasthan assembly session that begins on August 14, Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot has written to all the MLAs and urged them to “stand with truth”, weeks after Congress leader Sachin Pilot’s revolt pushed his government to brink.
In a three-page letter sent on Saturday, the Chief Minister wrote about the novel coronavirus pandemic and “attempts to topple his government”. He also said that ex-Prime Ministers – Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, Atal Bihari Vajpayee – faced defeats during elections, “but they didn’t let the institution of democracy weaken”.
“I appeal to all of you that to save the democracy, to ensure that voters continue to trust us and a wrong precedent is not set by us, you all should listen to the voice of people. While respecting the sentiment of your family members, your voters, please channelise your efforts in ensuring the government – elected by the people – continues to deliver with all its strength,” the 69-year-old leader wrote.
“I am confident that you all with stand with truth and will contribute in delivering promises made to the public,” he said.
“Amid the pandemic, we should all be concerned about fighting coronavirus… saving lives, economy, jobs. The state government is working day and night for this. At such a time, some of our colleagues and opposition leaders are trying to conspire against us… this is unfortunate,” Mr Gehlot’s letter read.
Between 1993 and 1996, “similar attempts were made to make such deals in order to topple Bhairon Singh Shekhawat government,” he mentioned.
“At that as the Union Minister and state’s party chief, I had raised objection with (former Rajasthan governor) Baliram Bhagat and ex-Prime Minister PV Narsimha Rao, stressing that it’s against the democratic values to topple an elected government. Voters here will never want that such a precedent is set,” the Chief Minister added.
Victory and defeat are a part of election cycles but the “people’s mandate is the most important,” he stressed.
On July 29, a notice from Governor Kalraj Mishra’s office said the assembly session will begin from August 14 after days of back-and-forth on the matter between him and the Chief Minister.
The Chief Minister is eager to hold a trust vote once the Assembly is in session next week and cement his position; if he wins he cannot be challenged for six months.
Mr Gehlot claims he has the support of 102 MLAs, one above the majority mark. The BJP has 72 MLAs. Both the parties have been guarding their flock amid the crisis.
Rajasthan BJP on Saturday shifted six of its MLAs to Gujarat’s Porbandar ahead of house battle, news agency PTI reported.
Sachin Pilot, 42, who was was sacked as the Deputy Chief Minister last month after he rebelled, has 19 MLAs in his camp sequestered at resorts in BJP-ruled Haryana.
Earlier this week, the Bahujan Samaj Party’s appeal seeking a temporary freeze on the merger of its six former legislators with Rajasthan’s Congress government, was dismissed by the High Court. The six MLAs have sought transfer of the case to the top court.
If there is a freeze on the merger, Mr Gehlot’s numbers will drop and he will have a tougher fight on his hands in case of a trust vote.