Rajasthan: Setback for Mayawati, all 6 BSP MLAs join Congress
In a big jolt to Bahujan Samaj Party supremo Mayawati, all six MLAs of her party switched sides in Rajasthan to join the ruling Congress, led by Ashok Gehlot. Earlier, BSP was lending support to the government from "outside", and their decision will strengthen Congress in the 200-member strong assembly. Congress returned to power in the desert state in December 2018, after five years.
The MLAs who dumped BSP are: Rajendra Gudd, Jogendra Singh Awana, Wajib Ali, Lakhan Singh Meena, Sandeep Yadav, and Deepchand Kheria. Late on Monday night, they met Assembly Speaker CP Joshi to submit a letter of intent. Reports have it that the MLAs had been in touch with Gehlot for quite some time now. It will be hardly surprising if a cabinet expansion follows.
This development serves as a reminder of what happened in 2009. A decade ago as well, all six BSP MLAs had joined Congress when Gehlot was the CM and were duly rewarded with ministerial berths. This time when Joshi was asked if he accepted the merger, he told TOI, "I have received the merger letter and the procedure will follow once the office opens."
Talking about the decision, Gudd told ANI that Gehlot is the "best CM" and added he was impressed by his "polity". "We took a decision in order to fight against communal forces and to work for the development of the state and stability of the government," Gudd, who represents Udaipurwati, said. Meanwhile, Awana said it was difficult for them to support Congress from outside.
"On one hand, we were supporting Congress for the development of the state and on the other, we were fighting against them in elections. We all gave a thought to it. We took a decision in favor of the state," Awana told the news agency.
After Rajasthan's Assembly polls, Congress won 100 seats. Other than six MLAs of BSP, Congress also enjoyed the support of 12 of the total 13 independent MLAs. However, in March, the 12 MLAs joined Congress, taking the tally to 112. With this new development, Congress has the support of 119 MLAs. One MLA of their alliance partner Rastriya Lok Dal (RLD) also supports Congress.