Rajasthan BJP chief Satish Poonia on Monday labelled Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot the “villain” of the crisis that has left the Congress government on the brink of collapse, and demanded the Chief Minister resign on “moral grounds”.
Mr Poonia also criticised expenditure on resorts – Mr Gehlot has isolated around 100 MLAs loyal to him at luxury hotels to guard against poaching. The MLAs are now at Hotel Suryagarh in Jaisalmer and were earlier at the Fairmont in Jaipur. Mr Poonia has claimed that nearly Rs 10 crore had been spent for this.
“I had said on day one it is infighting of the Congress and they kept running from one place to another. There should be an audit in ‘janta ki adalat‘ (people’s court),” he was quoted by news agency PTI.
“In this entire episode, the one who is actually a villain tried to become a hero. Ashok Gehlot should quit as Chief Minister, on moral grounds, as it would lead to the solution of a lot of problems,” Mr Poonia told reporters.
Amid the stand-off in the Congress – between Mr Gehlot and rebel leader Sachin Pilot, – the Rajasthan BJP chief also lashed out at the Chief Minister for neglecting issues of governance.
“There are many unemployed people. Rajasthan has become a crime capital. The government should have taken care of this,” Mr Poonia asserted and claimed Mr Gehlot had failed to deliver on poll promises.
Mr Poonia’s comments came as the Congress claimed a dramatic “breakthrough” in resolving the situation, with Mr Pilot meeting the Gandhis today for the first time since he launched his revolt.
Sources said terms for “homecoming” of Mr Pilot, and the rebel MLAs who declared their support for him, were discussed. This includes agreeing, sources said, to address Ashok Gehlot’s style of functioning. However, sacking him – one of Mr Pilot’s demands – was “out of the question”, sources added.
Attempts to bring the rebels home are likely, however, to face pushback from Mr Gehlot and his camp, who hit out over their party colleagues’ “betrayal”.
The Congress in Rajasthan was stunned last month after Sachin Pilot, who was then Deputy Chief Minister and President of Rajasthan Congress, threatened to pull the plug on the government.
Mr Gehlot, who has claimed a BJP conspiracy to destabilise his government, declared he had proof of Mr Pilot’s involvement and lashed out at his former deputy in a series of visceral comments, calling him “nikamma (useless)” and “baby-face”.
The BJP has denied any plot to topple the Congress government and Mr Pilot has repeatedly dismissed any talk he might join the BJP in a sensational switch that would mirror the move by Jyotiraditya Scindia in Madhya Pradesh that led to the fall of the Congress in that state.
With input from PTI