JAIPUR: Fearing poaching by its dissident group and the opposition BJP, Rajasthan Congress on Friday shifted its MLAs from a luxury hotel in the city, where they had been staying for the past 19 days, to another luxury resort in Jaisalmer. They were flown in three charter planes making five flights between 1pm and 6pm.
The legislators will stay in Jaisalmer until the assembly session begins on August 14 even as the ministers remain in Jaipur to attend to their official duties. The new arrangement will be flexible, with the movement of ministers being permitted between the two cities on a rotation basis over the next fortnight.
“It is important to save the government. You are witnessing how the government of India and its department (home) are after us. The people of Rajasthan are supporting us,” chief minister Ashok Gehlot said at Jaipur airport before flying to Jaisalmer with the last batch of MLAs on Friday evening.
“I repeatedly name home minister Amit Shah because he remains at the forefront in toppling governments, be it in Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Goa, Manipur or Arunachal Pradesh. I would ask him — what has happened to you Amit Shahji? Day and night, sleeping or awake, you think of toppling governments. If elected governments keep falling like this, how will democracy survive in the country?” said Gehlot.
Parliamentary affairs minister Shanti Dhariwal and Congress chief whip Mahesh Joshi accompanied the CM. Gehlot and some ministers were expected to return late on Friday, while others might return after the three-day government holiday on Tuesday.
Even as some MLAs said they were moving out to break the monotony of being in the Jaipur hotel since July 13, minister Pratap Singh Khachariyawas said the shifting was part of Gehlot’s strategy to ensure that not a single legislator breaks out of the fold.
Gazi Fakir, a religious leader and father of minority affairs minister Saleh Mohammad, not only holds sway in Jaisalmer but is also a trusted man of Gehlot, prompting the party to see it as a “safe” location. Being closer to the international border, the district already has stricter regulations in place to check movement and communication modes.
Referring to alleged poaching efforts by the rival camp, Gehlot said once the governor announced the date for convening the assembly session, legislators and their families started receiving phones calls with “threats and pressures”.
“What will happen to the nation if money ranging from Rs 10-15 crore to an unlimited amount is offered for horse-trading of MLAs. The MLAs were going through mental agony. They will not have to go through this in Jaisalmer,” said Gehlot.


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