New Delhi, Jul 14, 2020: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Tuesday continued to watch from the sidelines the high-voltage drama unfold in Rajasthan, where deputy chief minister Sachin Pilot was removed from his post, and also refrained from seeking a floor test.
State unit president Satish Poonia told news agencies: “At present, we are not demanding anything. It is a corrupt government and it mismanaged the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) crisis. It has become a weak government. This government should go away in the interests of the people.”
A BJP leader in Delhi said the party would not seek a floor test unless it is confident that both the CM Ashok Gehlot and Pilot factions are falling short of numbers.
On Tuesday, Gehlot claimed to have the support of 109 members of the Rajasthan legislative assembly (MLAs).
The half-way mark in the 200-member assembly is 101.
Main opposition BJP has 72 MLAs, and it also enjoys the support of three lawmakers, who belong to Nagaur Member of Parliament’s (MP) Rashtriya Loktantrik Party (RLP).
The BJP has maintained that it would keep its option open, should the Gehlot-led government topple in the wake of defections to the Pilot camp.
So far, the party has made no overt attempts to initiate an alliance with the Congress rebels.
The BJP functionaries aware of the details said leaders, including general secretary Anil Jain and Union minister Dharmendra Pradhan, have been at the helm of tracking fast-paced developments in the desert state.
They, however, declined to comment on whether there was a meeting between BJP leaders and Pilot. The saffron party also dismissed speculation of a meeting between Pilot and BJP chief JP Nadda.
When asked about the speculation that the BJP could support Pilot if he floats his own party and stakes a claim to form a government, a second party leader said the BJP would rather watch from the sidelines until the time it would become abundantly clear that the Gehlot faction would fall short of the required number to cling to power.
“A clear situation has to emerge for the party to take the next steps. We are watching the Congress collapse because of its vicious infighting. The inability of the Congress leadership in keeping the flock together is evident, and if the government falls, naturally we will explore all options that are open to us,” said the second senior leader in Delhi.
On whether Pilot would be welcomed into the party fold as because he has made public comments about not joining the BJP, the leader quoted above said, the party would not offer him an invitation to join, but would consider should he makes a conciliatory move.
“If anyone wants to join the BJP, we don’t stop them. However, we have not reached out to anyone yet,” the leader said.
Over the past two days, BJP leaders have asserted that they have had no role in engineering defections in the faction-ridden Rajasthan Congress lawmakers, whose allegiance is split between CM Gehlot and his challenger, Pilot.
However, the party has continued to target the Congress top brass, especially the Gandhi family for their inability to resolve factionalism within the grand old party amid its dwindling electoral fortunes.
Reacting to the Congress’s allegations that the saffron party was trying to engineer defection, Om Mathur, BJP’s Rajya Sabha MP from Rajasthan, tweeted on Tuesday afternoon, “Dear @ashokgehlot51, by shutting the eyes one does not erase the sun … the structure of your house is weak and you are accusing the @BJP4India national leadership for this.”