Jaisalmer/Jaipur, Aug 12 (PTI) Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot on Wednesday said resentment among the Congress MLAs is “natural” after the return of dissident legislators to the party-fold but asked them to forgive, forget and move on.
But with just two days to go before the assembly session, the party is taking no chances, deciding to keep them together at a resort in the state capital.
The MLAs in the Gehlot camp were on Wednesday flown back to Jaipur from Jaisalmer, where they were together at another hotel.
They were taken straight from the airport to the Fairmont hotel on the outskirts of the city, where they had stayed before being moved to Jaisalmer. The MLAs – mostly from the Congress and some allies – are expected to remain there till the assembly meets on August 14.
The Congress crisis in Rajasthan appears to have ended with the intervention of the top leadership of Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra who met rebel leader Sachin Pilot earlier this week Pilot had openly rebelled against Gehlot last month along with 18 other Congress MLAs. He was then sacked as deputy chief minister and the party’s Rajasthan chief.
Meeting reporters in Jaisalmer, Gehlot said he had urged the MLAs to bear with the develoipement, while acknowledging that it was “natural” for them to be upset.
“Forget and forgive and move on in the interest of the country, the state, the people of the state and democracy. Democracy in under threat. This was a fight to save democracy, in which our MLAS gave their support,” he said.
At earlier Congress Legislature Party meetings, the loyalist MLAs had called for disciplinary action against the dissidents who defied party whips while demanding a change in the leadership in the state.
Gehlot had himself called the now sacked PCC president “useless”, using the derogatory Hindi word “nikamma” for Sachin Pilot.
'It is natural for them to be upset. The way this episode happened, they had to stay in hotels,” he said Wednesday, in an apparent reference to the previous evening’s Congress Legislature Party meeting in Jaisalmer.
“I have exhorted them that in the interest of the country, state, people of the state and for saving democracy, sometimes we have to bear this,” he said.
He said that more than 100 MLAs stayed together for such a long time, which is a big thing in itself and had never happened in the history of the country.
The chief minister said all MLAs, including those who have “returned” now, will work together to fulfil the commitments made to the people of the state.
In Jaipur, as the loyalist MLAs headed to the Fairmont hotel, Transport Minister Pratap Singh Khachariyawas confirmed that they are not happy with the turn of events.
“Yes, several MLAs said they are upset and saying this is their right,” he said, while reminding that a decision has already been taken by the party high command.
AICC general secretary Avinash Pande, who too came to Jaipur from Jaisalmer, said the MLAs remained united.
The Gehlot government will complete its five-year term, he said. “We will also win the next assembly elections in 2023.” Independent MLA Sanyam Lodha said the dissident MLAs have returned unconditionally. Congress deputy chief whip Mahendra Chaudhary called the events a victory of the Congress and the BJP’s defeat.
The party had alleged that the BJP was trying to topple the Gehlot government by trying to lure away Congress MLAs.
The MLAs in the Ashok Gehlot camp had moved into the Fairmont hotel in Jaipur on July 13 and were shifted to Jaisalmer’s Suryagarh hotel on August 31.
Till Wednesday evening, Gehlot and Pilot had not met since the dissident leader’s return to Jaipur.
On Tuesday, Gehlot was in Jaisalmer with the MLAs there. He travelled to Jodhpur on Wednesday to condole the death of 11 Pakistani Hindu migrants who died there recently, allegedly after a suicide pact. PTI SDA IJT DV DIV ASH ASH