Jaipur/New Delhi: The Bharatiya Janata Party has changed its strategy for regime change in Rajasthan. According to reliable sources, after the failure of Operation Lotus because of the political jugglery by Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, the BJP has decided not to rely on Congress MLAs to bring in the change. Its new plan is based on the Madhya Pradesh-Karnataka formula. The senior leadership of the party has instructed the Rajasthan state unit not to take any step before the resignation of the MLAs. BJP is being very cautious since it was defeated by the political manoeuvrings of CM Ashok Gehlot in its first attempt to dislodge state government.
Six months ago, BJP relied on Sachin Pilot to pull down Gehlot but failed. Now senior leaders have decided not to depend on Congress MLAs. According to information provided by reliable sources close to BJP, the party has no trust in Congress MLAs because only 19 out of 30 MLAs rallied behind Sachin Pilot during Operation Lotus and failed to topple the government. BJP and Sachin Pilot failed to understand the political manoeuvrings of CM Ashok Gehlot, who has a comprehensive experience of four decades in active politics.
Gehlot, with his foresight, played many tricks to outplay Pilot and his team. Mustering the support of 13 independent MLAs was his masterstroke. The merger of 6 BSP MLAs into theCongress Legislature Party and keeping them united was another masterstroke. These MLAs showed complete faith in the leadership of Gehlot. BJP has 72 seats out of 200 seats in the Rajasthan Assembly and one of the BJP MLAs, Kiran Maheshwari passed away recently. BJP was supported by 3 RLP MLAs, but their party president Hanuman Beniwal has announced withdrawal of support from the NDA in the wake of the farmers’ agitation. Nobody is sure what course RLP will take. Therefore, BJP needs the support of 29 MLAs to touch the magic number of 100.
BJP leaders know that it is tough to challenge Ashok Gehlot when he is the incumbent. Hence, it is better to employ the MP-Karnataka formula in Rajasthan. Congress and independent MLAs should be asked to resign first and then the key of power should be taken from the hands of the existing legislature party. According to sources, MLAs should resign and seek re-election on the BJP symbol and subsequently form the government.
BJP leaders have once again started working ahead of the Cabinet expansion slated for a long time. They are expecting dissidence during Cabinet expansion because Gehlot might have promised Cabinet berths to many MLAs who camped in Fair Mont Hotel in Jaipur and Suryagarh Palace Hotel in Jaisalmer. BJP leaders think this can be the right time to implement the MP-Karnataka formula.
Many BJP leaders have reiterated that the Gehlot government will fall after Cabinet expansion. While targeting CM Gehlot, Leader of Opposition, Gulab Chand Kataria has categorically stated that the state government will fall on the day of the expansion of the Cabinet. He said, “CM is not doing Cabinet expansion because he can’t include all MLAs into the Cabinet. This is why his government will fall on that day.” He added, “CM Gehlot has been targeting BJP to defer expansion.”
On New Year’s Eve, BJP state president Satish Punia said, “The allegations levelled by CM Gehlot against BJP are false and baseless.” While challenging Gehlot, Punia said, “If the government is so proud of its mandate and popularity, it should conduct mid-term elections and it would come to know the reality.”
These kinds of fiery statements are the clearest sign that BJP is preparing to carry out Operation Lotus-2 and is looking for the opportunity. They are planning to manage the resignation of dissident MLAs. On the other hand, Ashok Gehlot is planning to safeguard his government by meeting the demands of the MLAs who are supporting him. He is working on the formula of parliamentary secretary in which the MLA can be removed from the purview of office of profit. Most of the legislators will be appointed as parliamentary secretaries and state commission positions. In addition to this, senior leaders from the Sachin Pilot camp will be given Cabinet berths on his advice.
Govind Singh Dotasra, PCC chief, Rajasthan, said: “BJP’s intention will never be fulfilled, Congress is united. BJP failed in its first attempt; therefore, Home Minister Amit Shah has made this a question of credibility. The actual question of credibility lies in solving the problems of lakhs of farmers who are staging dharna. The people of Rajasthan have elected a government which will function till the end of five-year tenure.” Gulabchand Kataria, Leader of Opposition, said: “Congress has suppressed internal rebellion once, but in the coming days, when the Gehlot Cabinet is expanded, Congressmen themselves will break away. We will have nothing to do with it.”
Manu Sharma is Editor, India News Rajasthan