The crisis in the Congress-led government in Rajasthan may have been compared to the situation that brought down the party’s government in Madhya Pradesh, with infighting between leaders and the high command’s failure to arrest it but for the BJP, the Rajasthan crisis is one where lessons learnt after the Maharashtra elections came in handy.
According to senior party sources, the debacle of government formation in Maharashtra, with current Finance Minister Ajit Pawar unable to back up his claim on numbers and the party’s humiliating retreat, has made the BJP tread with caution in dealing with Rajasthan Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot.
“Whereas any party would want a government in Rajasthan, we were not very sure of the numbers,” a senior party leader said.
“Added to this was the fact that unlike Jyotiraditya Scindia in Madhya Pradesh, Sachin Pilot had not openly expressed rebellion against the Congress. Which is why we too have adopted a wait and watch situation with regard to Rajasthan,” the leader from the State said.
He added that the numbers situation was “being closely watched” by the BJP, but said much needs to be said before any scenario that could see Sachin Pilot join the BJP, comes to fruition. As the Congress sent out contradictory signals through the day — a resolution by its legislative party that those trying to break the party were not welcome to All India Congress Committee (AICC) general secretary Randeep Surjewala sending out a “all is forgiven” message to Mr. Pilot — the man at the centre of the storm remained silent.
Party leaders did confirm that some communication had been on between Mr. Pilot and the BJP, especially after the exit of Mr Scindia from the Congress, but that “nothing had been committed” to him. The Income Tax Dept. raids this morning against business interests said to be friendly with Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot are being dismissed as just “muscle flexing” in response to the FIRs lodged on alleged efforts at buying MLAs in Rajasthan and the extensive use of the Anti-Corruption Branch (ACB) of the State.
In public, the BJP is maintaining that the events in Rajasthan have nothing to do with it. Party MP and senior leader Om Mathur said it was “unfortunate that the Congress is breaking everywhere. It is the Deputy Chief Minister and Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) chief who is making accusations against his own government. How can the BJP be blamed?”
“It is their internal matter. Since (Ashok) Gehlot became the chief minister, this internal struggle has cost the State in development,” he added.
Former Union minister and MP from Rajasthan P.P. Choudhary added that the BJP’s doors were “open to everyone” and if the State’s Deputy Chief Minister was claiming that the State government was in a minority, “it should be taken seriously.”
By mid-afternoon, Mr. Gehlot had moved 102 MLAs (88 from the Congress ) to a resort on the outskirts of Jaipur, with the BJP revising the head count against the claims made by Mr Pilot.