While allegations of MLA poaching in Rajasthan fly thick and fast, BJP state president Satish Poonia said that the Congress government sealed the state borders to keep a check on the movement of its own MLAs and not to contain Covid-19. He also refuted the allegations that BJP was trying to poach Congress MLAs.

“Congress government is insecure of its own MLAs, which is why it has sealed the borders with Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat. As per the order, leaving the state is prohibited. They wanted to ensure none of their MLAs defy them. Covid-19 is just an excuse,” Poonia told Outlook. With fears of alleged poaching attempts by the BJP — ahead of the Rajya Sabha (RS) polls — the Congress party on Wednesday moved its MLAs to a resort on the Jaipur-Delhi highway.

Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot had also alleged that BJP was trying to lure the Congress MLAs by offering them Rs 25 crore each. Poonia, however, calls the allegations false and baseless. “The Congress party has no proof. They are trying to hide their own inefficiency. The letter they wrote to the Anti-Corruption Bureau has no concrete facts. Neither any BJP leader nor any Congress MLA, who they claim has got an offer, has been named in the letter,” Poonia added.

Earlier this week, Chief Whip of the Rajasthan assembly, Mahesh Joshi, wrote to the chief of the state’s Anti-Corruption Bureau. The letter reads: “Just like Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Karnataka, in Rajasthan too, our MLAs and independent MLAs supporting us are being lured in an attempt to destabilise a democratically elected government.”

The Congress has 107 MLAs — six of them were from Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party and changed camp last year — in the 200 member strong state assembly. It also has the support of at least a dozen independent MLAs. Whereas, BJP has 72 of its own MLAs and the support of six more.

In Rajasthan, three Rajya Sabha seats are up for election. Two of them are expected to go to the Congress and one to the BJP. However, the BJP’s decision to nominate two candidates instead of one has given rise to a lot of speculations and controversy.

According to political analysts, the Congress, as of now, looks comfortable as each RS candidate needs 51 first preference votes for winning. But at the same time the BJP can upset Congress’ plans if it gets support of 12 independent MLAs, who are currently backing the Congress.

While addressing a press conference at a hotel in Jaipur on Friday, Gehlot, without disclosing the names of those allegedly involved in trying to topple the government, accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah of destroying democracy in the country. “The truth about the money transfer for horse-trading would be revealed in the SOG’s [Special Operations Group] probe,” he said, referring to the branch of Rajasthan police that deals with organised crime.

Accusing BJP of playing dirty games especially during the time when coronavirus outbreak has hit India, Gehlot added, “When the world was battling the virus crisis, the BJP was busy bringing down the Congress government in Madhya Pradesh. Now it’s quite evident to people who is giving dard (pain) and who is giving dawa (medicine).”

Furthermore, he said that the RS polls were postponed to June 19 because the BJP’s horse-trading was not complete two months ago.

Those present in the press conference included Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot and senior Congress leaders such as Randeep Surjewala, Avinash Pande and K C Venugopal. The latter is one of the candidates for the RS seats from Rajasthan.

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