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Horse-trading ‘rates’ shot up after assembly session announcement: Ashok Gehlot

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Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot claimed Thursday that the money offered to MLAs to switch sides increased sharply after the announcement of the assembly session date, up from Rs 10 crore as the “first instalment” to whatever they asked.

Gehlot also accused Bahujan Samaj Party supremo Mayawati of acting at the behest of the BJP, referring to her party’s petition in the high court challenging the merger of six BSP MLAs with the Congress last year.

The chief minister claimed that MLAs have been getting calls after Governor Kalraj Mishra agreed Wednesday night to convene a session from August 14.

Gehlot said earlier the “rate” was 10 crore as the first instalment and Rs 15 crore as the second.

“Now, it is being asked how much do you want? This means that the rate has increased. Everyone knows who is doing the horse-trading,” he told reporters outside the Fairmont hotel where the MLA in his camp are holed up.

Gehlot is trying to save his government after Sachin Pilot and 18 other Congress MLAs rebelled. The Congress has accused the BJP of being behind this “conspiracy” to topple the state government.

The chief minister said the rebels should return to the party-fold.

“They won elections on Congress tickets and their first duty is to stand with the government. They don’t realise what the people are thinking about them in their constituencies, and they will come to know that later,” he said.

“Why are they playing in the lap of BJP,” he asked.

He said BSP chief Mayawati’s complaint about last year’s merger of six BSP MLAs with that of his party was unjustified, since the entire group in the assembly switched sides.

“It was not about two MLAs. All six MLAs merged, and according to their own conscience,” Gehlot said.

He alleged that she was giving statements at the behest of the BJP because she is afraid of the party that is misusing the CBI, the Enforcement Directorate and the Income Tax department against everyone.

The Rajasthan High Court on Thursday issued notices to the assembly Speaker, secretary and the six MLAs over the BSP’s petition.

Gehlot said the dissident Congress MLAs are at Manesar in Gurgaon and the Special Operations Group (SOG) team of the Rajasthan police is unable to reach them.

“The entire country is watching this. This is the game of the BJP and people will not forgive the party,” he said.

He claimed that Union Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat’s name had cropped up in the “conspiracy” against his government.

Gehlot said the SOG has started an investigation against him in a cooperative credit society scam, but the minister is yet to resign.

He said that the BJP party and Union Home Minister Amit Shah should give up their “intention” of toppling the elected government and instead work on saving lives from coronavirus.

“The state and the Centre should together work on this but, unfortunately, their priority is to topple governments,” he alleged.

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