Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot on Sunday claimed Vasundhara Raje and two other BJP leaders had helped save his government during the 2020 revolt by his party MLAs.
He also took potshots at the rebel Congress MLAs saying they should return the money they had taken from the BJP so that they can carry out their duty without any pressure.
Mr Gehlot’s then deputy Sachin Pilot and 18 other Congress MLAs had revolted against his leadership in July 2020. The month-long crisis ended after the intervention of the party high command. Mr Pilot was then removed as the deputy chief minister and state Congress president.
Addressing a programme in Dholpur, Mr Gehlot said his government could be saved because of the support of three BJP leaders — former chief minister Vasundhara Raje, former assembly speaker Kailash Meghwal and MLA Shobharani Kushwah.
“(Union ministers) Amit Shah, Gajendra Singh Shekhawat and Dharmendra Pradhan conspired together to topple my government. They distributed money in Rajasthan and they are not taking the money back now. I am surprised why they are not demanding the money back from them (the MLAs),” he claimed.
“I have even told the MLAs that whatever money they have taken, Rs 10 crore or Rs 20 crore, if you have spent anything, I will give that part or I will get it from AICC (All India Congress Committee),” he said.
Mr Gehlot alleged that if the MLAs did not return the money, they will always be under pressure from Amit Shah.
“He is the Union home minister, he will intimidate…in Maharashtra he divided Shiv Sena,” Gehlot alleged.
He said that he was made the chief minister by the party for a third time and it was his duty to take all along and forget past happenings and ensure the return of the party to power in the assembly elections, slated for later this year.
Mr Gehlot said he, as the state party chief, did not support the toppling of the BJP government led by Bhairon Singh Shekhawat as it was unfair, in the same manner, Ms Raje and Meghwal did not support the toppling of the Congress government in 2020.
He said that BJP MLA Shobharani Kushwah also listened to them and did not support the party.
Mr Gehlot and Raje have often been accused by their detractors in their own parties of “going soft” on each other, especially when it came to allegations of corruption.
The two leaders have denied any such understanding. A few days ago, Raje had rejected allegations of collusion with Gehlot as lie, saying milk and lemon juice never mix.
Dholpur MLA Kushwah had cross-voted in favour of the Congress candidate in Rajya Sabha elections last year and was suspended from the party subsequently.
The Congress leader was addressing the programme in the home turf of former chief minister Raje.
Mr Gehlot also praised Congress MLAs Rohit Bohra, Chetan Dudi and Danish Abrar for alerting him about the revolt against his government in 2020.
He said that these three MLAs, BSP-turned-Congress MLAs and independent MLAs who had supported him and saved his government during the political crisis in 2020 deserved to be made ministers in his government but he could not do so due to political reasons and was sad about it.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)