Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot on Saturday warned of renewed attempts to topple elected governments in his state and Maharashtra, and launched a direct attack on Union Home Minister Amit Shah, whom he accused of holding clandestine meetings with Congress MLAs earlier this year.
Speaking at the inauguration of a party office in Sirohi district, Mr Gehlot – whose government was on the brink of collapse in July after a rebel group led by Sachin Pilot (and allegedly backed by the BJP) threatened to pull support – said the MLAs in question had informed him of the meeting.
“They (the BJP) tried to make the Rajasthan government fall. After meeting with Amit Shah and (Union Minister) Dharmendra Pradhan, our MLAs told me they were ashamed to see Amit Shah as Home Minister,” Mr Gehlot said
“They were giving assurances (to the MLAs) that they have made five different governments fall and this will be the sixth. The BJP has been conspiring like this,” the Rajasthan Chief Minister added.
The BJP hit back through Gulab Chand Kataria, the Leader of the Opposition, who suggested Mr Gehlot and the Congress would be better served by “ensuring peace inside your own house”.
“It doesn’t make sense to make allegations against others when you are not ensuring peace inside your own house. Those who were on the brink of rebellion were never pacified,” Mr Kataria said, referring to the dramatic revolt led by Mr Pilot less than six months ago.
In July the Congress fought desperately to stay in power in Rajasthan after Sachin Pilot, who was then Deputy Chief Minister, and 19 MLAs set up base at a luxury resort in BJP-ruled Haryana, lending further ammunition to the Congress’s claim their rivals were behind the attempted coup.
Matters were resolved only after a meeting between Mr Pilot and the Gandhis – Rahul and Priyanka Vadra – and the promise of a panel to hear and address grievances raised by the rebels.
Mr Gehlot, who fired several crude barbs at Mr Pilot at that time, including calling him “nikamma” (useless), had then also alleged a BJP “conspiracy” to destabilise his government.
The BJP had denied any plot to topple the Congress government, with Mr Kataria at that time blaming party infighting for the chaos.
The Congress’s survival saga in Rajasthan came only months after it fought (and failed) to stay in power in Madhya Pradesh, where the influential Jyotiraditya Scindia led a revolt and nearly two dozen MLAs into the BJP’s fold.