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2 BTP MLAs withdraw support to ruling Ashok Gehlot’s Congress govt in Rajasthan

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Two Bhartiya Tribal Party (BTP) legislators withdrew their support to the ruling Congress in Rajasthan giving a jolt to the party in power. This withdrawal does not however put the ruling party in any danger as it still has adequate numbers to hold on to the government.

The ruling party fared poorly in the recently concluded panchayat elections where the BJP performed better.

The two BTP MLAs Raj Kumar Rot and Ram Prasad Dindor announced on Friday their withdrawal of support to the Ashok Gehlot government. This followed two key developments in the past few days.

First was an allegation by Congress MLA and former minister, Mahendrajeet Singh Malviya that the two BTP MLAs took Rs10 crore each to support the Gehlot government during Sachin Pilot’s rebellion earlier this year.

A video of Malviya making these allegations was tweeted by Rajasthan BJP chief Satish Punia in November-end.

Then, during the panchayat polls, the Congress joined hands with the BJP in the tribal district of Dungarpur to defeat a BTP-backed independent candidate contesting for the Zilla Pramukh post.

The Congress members of the Zila Parishad voted for the BJP candidate, who won the post despite the party having just eight seats in the 27-member Dungarpur Zilla Parishad.

The BTP called it a “betrayal of trust” proving that “the Congress can never be trusted. It said it will not tie-up with Congress in the future.

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The BTP had supported the Gehlot government during the trust vote and also voted for the Congress in the Rajya Sabha elections.

Ashok Gehlot government in numbers

The Congress government of Ashok Gehlot survives in Rajasthan by a thin majority with 105 MLAs in the 200-member Rajasthan Assembly. Of these MLAs, 19 are those who had sided with Sachin Pilot

Besides its own 105 MLAs, the Congress has the support of 13 independent MLAs and one RLD member. The Congress’ 105 MLAs include six BSP MLAs, who had joined the Congress after the 2018 election.

Of the total 121 MLAs who support the Gehlot government, 21 are ministers in the government. Gehlot can have a maximum of 30 ministers.

The BJP has already been saying that the Gehlot government will not last its full term till 2023. The panchayat polls and the withdrawal of support by the BTP have increased pressure on Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot to speed up cabinet expansion in Rajasthan and accommodate as many MLAs in the ministry or other positions as possible.

Chief Minister Gehlot himself has said that the BJP was still trying to topple his government. He also alleged that both Rajasthan and Maharashtra are being targeted by the BJP.

But the AICC general secretary in-charge of the state Ajay Makan countered Gehlot’s claims and said there was no threat to the Congress government as the BJP will not attempt to topple the government having failed once.

Poor performance in civic polls

In the recent panchayat polls in Rajasthan, the ruling Congress party suffered a setback. The rival BJP won 1,989 of the 4,371 seats while the Congress managed to win 1,852 seats across the 222 panchayat samitis in Rajasthan.

Independent candidates won 439 seats in the panchayat polls that signalled an underlying anti-incumbency against the Congress in Rajasthan. Further, the BJP’s ally in the NDA, the Rashtriya Loktantrik Party (RLP) won 60 seats while the CPI-M got 26 seats.

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In the Zila Parishad election, the BJP won a majority of 353 seats across 21 Zila Parishads compared to 252 won by the Congress. Independent candidates won 18, the RLP 10, and the CPI-M 2 seats respectively.

The panchayat polls have given the BJP control of 14 of 21 Zila Parishad. The Congress’s loss came as a surprise given that only last month, it won mayoral positions in four out of six municipal corporations that went to the polls.

The poor show in the panchayat polls has made the Congress and Gehlot look more vulnerable to political pressures in Rajasthan.

 

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