JAIPUR: Days before the commencement of Rajasthan Assembly session, Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot has written a letter to all the 200 MLAs of the state and urged them to "stand with the truth" and help to ‘save democracy’.
Over the past four weeks, Gehlot’s government has been facing a huge crisis after rebel Congress leader Sachin Pilot revolted in mid-July.
In his letter, CM Gehlot wrote about the coronavirus pandemic and "attempts to topple his government". He also mentioned that ex-Prime Ministers like Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi and Atal Bihari Vajpayee faced defeats during elections "but they didn't let the institution of democracy weaken".
He further added, "I appeal to all of you that to save democracy, to ensure that voters continue to trust us and a wrong precedent is not set by us, you all should listen to the voice of people. While respecting the sentiment of your family members, your voters, please channelise your efforts in ensuring that the government - elected by the people - continues to deliver with all its strength".
This is the third major letter that CM Gehlot has written in the past fortnight during which he had even shot off two letters to PM Narendra Modi. The Chief Minister also used the opportunity to highlight the work done by his government since it came to power in 2018. He also listed out how his government successfully fought the COVID-19 pandemic and took crucial steps ‘to strengthen’ the economy.
Despite the conciliatory tone of his letter, CM Gehlot clearly targeted the BJP and Sachin Pilot camp that triggered the current political crisis in Rajasthan. The Chief Minister lamented that just when his government was busy trying to fight the coronavirus in those circumstances, “some of our own people along with the opposition leaders tried to indulge in a conspiracy to topple a democratically elected government, which is unfortunate".
He recalled in the letter that during 1993-96, horse-trading was done to topple the Bhairon Singh Shekhawat government. But he claims that “ as a union minister and state party chief, I met Governor Baliram Bhagat, PM PV Narsimha Rao and protested against the toppling of an elected government which is against democratic values and I consider it as political enormity.” he said.
CM Gehlot further remembers that in 1984, during Rajiv Gandhi’s tenure, the anti-defection law was brought and when Atal Bihari was the prime minister, a provision was made that two-third members of a political group can make a separate group or can merge in another group.
He further adds that to ensure a stable government, the six-BSP MLAs decided to merge with the Congress in Rajasthan, which is legal but destabilizing a government through horse-trading or other means is unjustified. It is against democratic values, asserts the chief minister and states, “we respect the elected representatives, no matter which political parties they belong to, and ensure that their justified demands related to the constituency are fulfilled.”
Finally, CM Gehlot concludes his letter with a final appeal - “I hope you will stand by the truth and cooperate in fulfilling the promises made to the public for the state’s development and prosperity.”
While the CM has repeatedly claimed that he has a majority in the 200-member House, he has avoided a clear mention of a trust vote in his public statements including in this letter.
This is primarily due to the fact that he currently enjoys a very slim majority given that the Pilot camp has pushed his government to the brink. As he heads towards the Assembly session, CM Gehlot seems to have written this letter to appeal to the conscience of individual MLAs in the hope that he will get a positive response across party lines.