Rajasthan Cong files ‘money transfer’ complaint with SOG, keeps its MLAs together at two resorts

The Congress on Friday filed a complaint with Rajasthan Police on a ‘money transfer’ to lure party MLAs, now holed up in two resorts here as its leaders try to keep the flock together till the Rajya Sabha polls.
Over 100 Congress MLAs and others supporting the Ashok Gehlot-led government spent Thursday night at Shiv Vilas resort on the Delhi highway, as party leaders accused the Bharatiya Janata Party of trying to topple the state government. On Friday, many were settling in for another night away from home.
The opposition BJP dismissed the developments as a self-staged ‘drama’, which reflects the rift between Gehlot and Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot.
The numbers in the state assembly suggest that the Congress would win two seats in the Rajya Sabha elections on June 19 and the BJP one.
But the BJP has fielded two candidates, triggering charges that it was counting on horse-trading.
Gehlot stayed the night at Shiv Vilas resort on Thursday after a meeting with the legislators, which was also attended by All India Congress Committee (AICC) spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala.
On Friday, he held another meeting at the nearby JW Marriott hotel, where some of the MLAs had shifted during the day.
Earlier, Surjewala, who was sent by the party from Delhi as observer for the polls, claimed there was no compulsion but the MLAs wanted to stick together.
“If thieves come to your house to commit theft, you have to safeguard your house. If thieves are coming to steal democracy, it is our responsibility and duty to protect democracy,’ he told reporters.
Mahesh Joshi, government chief whip in Rajasthan Assembly, hinted that the MLAs will stay put at the hotels.
‘The MLAs are all united and staying at both the venues. They would like to stay there till the elections,’ he said.
Gehlot said a complaint has been lodged with the special operations group (SOG) of the Rajasthan Police into the organised crime of money transfer.
But he refused to disclose names of those behind the alleged money transfer to topple his government. A day earlier, party’s chief whip Mahesh Joshi had filed a complaint with the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) on similar lines.
Sachin Pilot, who is the party’s Rajasthan chief, and Surjewala addressed Friday afternoon’s the press conference with Gehlot.
‘What happened in Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh is known to all, and now it is being tried here in Rajasthan,’ Gehlot said.
The CM said the Congress has the support of independents and other parties and a request was also made to CPM leader Sitaram Yechuri for the support of that party’s MLAs to defeat ‘fascist forces’.
But the opposition BJP called the developments a drama scripted by Gehlot himself.
‘A political drama initiated by the chief minister is being carried out in the context of the Rajya Sabha elections. Baseless allegations are being levelled and legislators are being frightened in the name of the ACB and SOG,’ state’s BJP chief Satish Poonia told reporters.
‘Evidence should be presented. This is enough of defamation and we will not listen to this again and again. We have legal options open,’ he said.
Poonia said Gehlot had differences with Sachin Pilot and suggested that the development were meant to ‘target’ the state Congress chief.
The Congress has nominated K C Venugopal and Neeraj Dangi and the BJP fielded Rajendra Gehlot and Onkar Singh Lakhawat for the RS polls.
In the assembly of 200, the Congress has 107 MLAs and claims support of independent MLAs and legislators from parties like the Rashtriya Lok Dal, CPM and Bhartiya Tribal Party (BTP).
The BJP has 72 MLAs and the support of three Rashtriya Loktantrik Party MLAS.