JAISALMER/JAIPUR: Urging PM Narendra Modi once again to restrain BJP from trying to topple an elected government, Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot on Saturday accused Union ministers Dharmendra Pradhan and Piyush Goyal of being among the other big names “secretly” involved in the horse-trading conspiracy allegedly orchestrated by Jal Shakti minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat.
“The PM should step in and stop the tamasha (drama). Shekhawat’s involvement in the conspiracy is now known. He should resign on moral grounds. Many others like Pradhan and Goyal are secretly involved. We know this but we aren’t bothered. All we care for is democracy,” he said.
While targeting BJP, Gehlot sought to convey the message that for all the desert sand kicked up by his public fallout with sacked deputy CM Sachin Pilot, he was still open to welcoming back all the Congress dissidents with “hugs” if the high command wanted so.
“There is no pressure on me. The party has trusted and given me a lot. I have thrice been a Union minister, thrice an AICC general secretary, thrice a PCC chief and thrice a CM. What else would I want?” Gehlot told reporters before flying back to Jaipur from Jaisalmer, where he got his flock to shift on Friday to keep “poachers” at bay.
“Whatever I am doing is for public service. Whatever the Congress high command decides, I have no objection,” Gehlot said.
Asked whether he hadn’t become aggressive of late, Gehlot said, “Where have I been aggressive? I talk with love and affection…I keep smiling because that is god’s gift; I cannot help it.”
In Jaipur, state BJP president Satish Poonia said the Gehlot government had “mentally” already lost its majority, going by how all MLAs were whisked away to Jaisalmer with still two weeks to go for the special assembly session from August 14. “Sometimes, the CM announces the rate of MLAs as if he was in this business (of horse-trading) for long. On occasion, he talks about dictatorship as if he were the saviour of democracy. We have to remind him that he is from the party that declared Emergency,” he said.
Responding to Poonia’s remarks, the CM labelled the new crop of BJP functionaries as upstarts aspiring to take ex-CM Vasundhara Raje’s place, but unable to walk the talk. He said leader of the opposition Gulab Chand Kataria was the exception, being “a good human” and less vocal. “The rest attack us before the media but have no guts. Raje has, of course, disappeared from the scene.”