The six Congress MPs who had stayed away from the Taj Aravali resort in Udaipur joined the rest of the ruling party’s lawmakers there on Sunday, two days after the party’s “deadline”. Congress sequestered its lawmakers at the station by June 10. Rajya Sabha elections. The reversal of the six, including a minister, came following a meeting with Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot on Saturday evening. The deputies were flown to Udaipur in a private plane. They were accompanied by Gehlot himself and arrived around 1 p.m.
The end of this episode for Congress came on a day when Chief Government Whip and Cabinet Minister Mahesh Joshi wrote to the state Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) demanding an investigation into the alleged attempts to horse trading. The complaint is seen by party insiders as a subtle warning to discourage Congress and support MPs from cross-voting. Joshi had also filed FIRs with the Special Operations Group (SOG) in 2020, as part of an alleged attempt to overthrow the Gehlot government through bargaining.
In his complaint to the head of the ACB, Joshi said, “As it is known, an environment of buy-sell of MPs or voters, in a corrupt manner, is being created in various states across the country, especially around political activities such as elections. On social media and in other ways, there are fears that the power of money is at stake in the Rajya Sabha (Rajasthan) elections. Luring or bribing MPs or anyone in a corrupt manner, or improperly influencing elections, falls under the category of crimes under the Constitution.
He went on to write, “This includes exchanging money. One who gives money or takes money in a corrupt manner, both fall under the category of wrongdoing. Since I am the Chief Government Whip, it is my moral responsibility to ask you through a written complaint, so that you can put an end to the possibilities of such corrupt and improper attempts.
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After filing the lawsuit, Joshi told reporters, “There are fears on various media and social channels that the haggling trick will be adopted in the Rajya Sabha elections in Rajasthan. And when it comes to corruption, Rajasthan has a zero tolerance policy. Corruption of any kind is not tolerated in Rajasthan – you would have seen how the ACB continually acts wherever there is corruption.
He added: “Furthermore, if there is a possibility of political corruption, it is our responsibility to act against this possibility. Such political corruption weakens democracy in the country.
Asked about Joshi’s complaint, Gehlot told reporters at Udaipur airport: “It was given because of the way an environment has been created where a large-scale horse trade will take place. When a big industrialist comes, then naturally you know why he came. When the BJP doesn’t have the numbers, what votes will it get? From where? Why? What is the reason they will get votes? And when I say again and again that all are united with us, and they have supported us in the crisis, how can anyone have (cross vote) hopes of them, whether it is the BJP or n ‘anyone ? So I don’t know what discussion happened between them and their high command and the local leaders, they know better. But we can say that our kunba (clan) is united, we will win the three seats.
As things stand, Congress can send two candidates to the Rajya Sabha while the BJP can elect one. But the ruling party fielded three candidates and the BJP two. Thus, both parties will depend on votes outside their organizations to win an additional seat in the Upper House of Rajasthan. Congress, which has 108 MPs, needs 15 more votes to win its third seat and claims to have the support of 18 more MPs. The BJP has 71 MPs in the House and needs the support of 11 lawmakers to win its second seat.
Three FIRs were registered in 2020 following Joshi’s complaint. One FIR did not name anyone while another named then-rebel Sardarshahar Congress MP Bhanwar Lal Sharma, alleged middleman Sanjay Jain and one Gajendra Singh. Congress had claimed that it was Jodhpur MP and Union Minister Jal Shakti, Gajendra Singh Shekhawat. The FIRs were filed under IPC Sections 124A (sedition) and 120B (penalty for criminal association). The SOG then dropped the sedition charge of the three FIRs and transferred them to the ACB.
The CM’s promises to the “G-6”
Meanwhile, Nagar MLA Wajib Ali, one of the resisting Congress lawmakers, told the Indian Express on Sunday after arriving in Udaipur: “We had issues and we raised these issues ‘loudly’ with CM sahib. CM Sahib promised that these issues will be resolved. The neglect that we have faced for a long time from the bureaucracy and other ministers, these things will be taken care of.
The six “negotiated” with Congress ahead of the Upper House election, saying they had been overlooked. Sainik Kalyan’s Minister of State, Rajendra Gudha, on Friday claimed that some MPs formerly of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) had not been given the respect they deserved while Ali, the Bharatpur District MP who was also with BSP earlier, said his grouse was about bureaucracy.
Gudha was among six BSP lawmakers who joined Congress in 2019, a year after assembly elections, leaving the Mayawati-led party without representation in the state assembly. Besides Gudha and Ali, the other MPs in the group, loosely referred to as the “G6”, were Lakhan Singh (MP from Karauli), Sandeep Kumar (MP from Tijara, Alwar), Giriraj Singh (MP from Bari, Dholpur), and Khiladi Lal Bairwa (MP for Baseri, Dholpur).
On Friday, Gudha blasted Gehlot, saying the CM talked a lot but it would be better if he sat down and “worried” instead. “Gehlot sahib bolte bahut hain, bolte toh hain he, ke ye kiya, media mein bolte hain. Kabhi baith ke chinta karte toh zyada theek hota (Gehlot sahib talks a lot, he talks a lot, that he did this, he says it in the media. But it would have been better if he had sat down and worried)”, the minister told reporters in Jaipur. Apart from the portfolio of Sainik Kalyan (independent charge), Gudha is also in charge of the departments of Home Guard and Civil Defense (independent charge), and Panchayati Raj and Rural Development.
Expressing his reservations, Ali said the same day: “Due to shortcomings in the bureaucracy, social protection programs are not well implemented. There have been many complaints about the Department of Public Works and illegal mining and I myself have written several times to the CM, but we don’t know what happened to them.