From the lavish Fairmont Hotel in Jaipur to the palatial Suryagarh Hotel in Jaisalmer, the super-luxurious safe-keeping of MLAs supporting the Ashok Gehlot government in Rajasthan continues as they were shifted to the desert locale on Friday in a bid to prevent their numbers from depleting ahead of the assembly session that will start on August 14.
The legislators were taken to Jaisalmer from Jaipur on a chartered plane, Congress sources said, adding they were expected to stay in Jaisalmer till August 14. The MLAs have stayed at Fairmont Hotel on the Delhi-Jaipur Highway for two weeks ever since the rebellion by former Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot and 18 other MLAs loyal to him.
The move to Jaisalmer comes a day after Gehlot told reporters that the ‘rate’ for MLAs to switch over to the rebel camp had jumped and while they were being offered Rs 25 crore earlier, the offer is now of unlimited cash. “The rates of horse trading have increased after a new assembly session has been announced. Earlier, the first instalment was Rs 10 crore and the second was Rs 15 crore for MLAs. However, it is now unlimited and everyone knows who is involved in horse trading,” Gehlot said.
Gehlot has expressed before Governor Kalraj Mishra the support of 102 MLAs. The Gehlot camp claims that at least four to five MLAs who are in Delhi along with Pilot were amenable to supporting the government. The session is expected to see the chief minister proving his numbers, although a vote of confidence has not been listed amongst the reasons for convening the assembly in the proposal that was sent to the governor.
The decision to have an assembly session is believed to be meant to force the hand of Pilot and the other rebel MLAs, make them return to Jaipur and make clear where their allegiance lies. If these MLAs defy the party whip, they could face action under the anti-defection law and be disqualified, which will make it easier for Gehlot to arrive at the majority mark and also make it more comfortable for him numerically.