Written by Hamza Khan | Jaipur | Published: June 16, 2020 2:09:55 am
A photo of Women and Child Development Minister Mamta Bhupesh from inside the JW Marriot resort. (Express)
From morning walks to cricket matches, and Richard Attenborough’s Gandhi to satire, the Congress leadership has planned a packed agenda to keep the MLAs sequestered by it at a five-star resort on the Jaipur-Delhi highway entertained, ahead of Rajya Sabha elections on June 19.
Apart from Congress MLAs, led by Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, legislators of other parties as well as 13 Independents – more than 100 in all — are housed at the JW Marriott resort. Deputy CM Sachin Pilot rejoined them on Monday after spending Sunday in Delhi with his mother who had suffered a fracture.
With three days to go for the voting, the BJP too is expected to herd its MLAs to a resort on Tuesday.
The tweets and photos trickling out of JW Marriott tell a story of what’s happening inside. In one, Dudu MLA and former minister Babulal Nagar and Revenue Minister Harish Choudhary can be seen on morning walk together; Niwai (Tonk) MLA Prashant Bhairwa is making good use of a cycling track in another; while Youth Affairs and Sports Minister Ashok Chandna can be seen using an overcast day for a spot of cricket, along with Rafeek Khan, Independent MLA Sanyam Lodha and AICC secretary (organisation) Qazi Nizamuddin, among others.
Observers are poring over the tweets for hidden clues, for example the fact that Nizamuddin posted a photo showing Minister of State for Health Subhash Garg too at the cricket match, only to delete it later. Garg later tweeted a photo of himself batting, with a caption saying he enjoyed football and cricket with his colleagues in the council of ministers and MLAs.
That backfired, with reactions questioning the MoS, Health, for “enjoying” himself amidst a pandemic. One of those tweets, calling Garg’s actions a “shame”, was liked by Tourism Minister Vishvendra Singh. Both of them are MLAs from Bharatpur district (Garg from Bharatpur Assembly seat and Singh from Deeg-Kumher), and not on the best of terms. Earlier, Singh had publicly taken on Garg for the condition of health facilities in Bharatpur.
A photo of Women and Child Development Minister Mamta Bhupesh showed her attempting a pull shot. CM Gehlot has also turned up in the photos, attempting to hit a football as others crowd around him – a violation of social distancing, as noted by some.
On Saturday, AICC leader Randeep Singh Surjewala addressed a two-and-a-half-hour workshop in the afternoon on ‘6 saal, 6 bhrantiyan (six years, six misconceptions)’ on the Modi government at the Centre. Later in the day, satirist Sampat Saral hosted a show targeting the BJP.
Sunday saw the screening of Gandhi – those close to Gehlot say it is one of his favourite movies.
The ministers claim the working of the government has not been affected, and that they are overseeing offices remotely. On June 12, Gehlot laid the foundation stone for a drinking water project via a video conference.
The Congress has claimed that the CM had to move the MLAs to the resort after coming to know of BJP plans to offer them money to cross-vote in the Rajya Sabha polls. The Congress is set to win two seats, and the BJP one, in the elections. The BJP has fielded a second candidate, and requires additional votes of over two dozen MLAs.
In the Assembly of 200, the Congress enjoys the support of 107 MLAs. The two CPI (M) MLAs are also expected to vote in its favour, leaving its candidates K C Venugopal and Neeraj Dangi well-placed.
A major hiccup in its plans is Food and Civil Supplies Minister Ramesh Meena, who has stayed away from the resort and is said to be “unhappy”.
The BJP has 72 MLAs, and is supported by the Rashtriya Loktantrik Party’s three.
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