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Ashok Gehlot shifts MLAs to luxury resort in Jaisalmer to outwit Pilot camp

They were transported by a chartered aircraft, with no clarity as to who is footing the bill

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Ashok Gehlot | Congress | rajasthan

Aditi Phadnis  |  New Delhi 

(Top) Rajasthan Congress MLAs arrive at Jaipur Airport as they shift to Jaisalmer;  (Right) Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot at Jaipur Airport 	Photos: pti
Rajasthan Congress MLAs arrive at Jaipur Airport as they shift to Jaisalmer; (Photos: PTI)

Chief Minister has moved MLAs pledging allegiance to him to a luxury resort in Jaisalmer from Jaipur, where they have been staying since July 13.

They were transported by a chartered aircraft, with no clarity as to who is footing the bill — for both the aircraft and Suryagarh Resort. They will be kept in Jaisalmer till the eve of the Assembly session starting August 14.

“After the Assembly session was announced on Wednesday, the rates for horse-trading have increased. Earlier, the first installment amounted to Rs 10 crore, and the second Rs 15 crore.

But now they are being asked ‘What do you want’. This means from 25 (crore rupees), horse trading rates have increased,” Gehlot had told the press on Thursday, justifying the move.

So far, 54 MLAs have moved and the rest will also be shifted. Ministers, however, will stay in Jaipur. Before departing for Jaisalmer, Gehlot had convened a Legislature Party meeting in Jaipur and told MLAs they would be given lucrative offers and that they should ignore as this government will stay put.

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“We are going to Jaisalmer just for change,” said MLA Prashant Bairwa. Former MLA Badriram Jakhar spoke to the media at Jaisalmer, and issued a call to all MLAs in the camp to return home. “It is still not too late. Pilot can still return,” said Jakhar. The immediate provocation behind shifting the MLAs was the apprehension that at least 10 in the Gehlot camp were still in touch with Pilot.

All of them have one thing in common: they were selected by as candidates for the 2018 Assembly election and defeated the BJP in their constituencies by big margins. Danish Abrar, for instance, defeated a tribal BJP candidate Asha Meena by 25,000 votes, which is sizeable in an Assembly election.

Abrar is the son of former union minister Abrar Ahmad, and is an MBA from a British university. Chetan Dudi won by a margin of 40,000 while Prashant Bairwa won by a margin of 43,000 votes.

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All of them had earlier denied they were joining the Pilot camp. However, in the Gehlot faction, suspicion remains about their loyalties. Gehlot had spoken to them when the crisis first started, and told them that Pilot was joining the BJP and their political future would be sealed if they joined Pilot.

The move to Jaisalmer is calculated to prevent attrition and make sure the Gehlot camp stays united.

First Published: Fri, July 31 2020. 23:35 IST
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