Gehlot appeals to Modi's conscience in correspondence
Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot has appealed to the conscience of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to prevent his party and the central government from participating in a conspiracy to destabilise the state government in the middle of a pandemic.
“In this deed, central minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, some other BJP leaders and some over-ambitious leaders of our party are involved,” Gehlot had written in a letter sent to Modi on Sunday and made public on Wednesday.
“I am not aware to what extent this is in your knowledge or if you are being misled,” Gehlot added. “History will not forgive those who participate in this deed.”
Although both Gehlot and the Congress have repeatedly blamed the BJP and the Centre for the toppling operation, the formal letter sent to Modi is an ingenious ploy to drag him in and show the country how concerned the Prime Minister is about the threat to democratic processes and a legitimately elected government.
If Modi does not appear to intervene and de-couple the BJP from the Sachin Pilot camp, the Congress will have ground to insinuate apathy at the very top to prevent the destruction of democratic traditions.
Gehlot cleverly said in his letter that he was not aware whether the Prime Minister knew the full details or he was being misled.
Nobody in the Congress expects the Prime Minister to intervene. One senior leader explained the purpose of Gehlot’s letter: “This is an age of communication explosion and it is difficult to believe the Prime Minister is not aware of every detail. The involvement of central agencies and the fact that both Modi and Amit Shah have complete control over the system rule out the possibility of this operation being executed by low-level functionaries of the BJP in connivance with Pilot.”
Gehlot took care to subtly lay the entire blame at Modi’s door by saying: “State governments are being destabilised for some time now in gross violation of the spirit of the anti-defection law brought by former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and further amended by Atal Bihari Vajpayee. This is an insult of people’s will and disregard of constitutional values. The Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh developments are latest examples.”
Gehlot is consciously distinguishing Modi from former Prime Ministers Rajiv Gandhi and Vajpayee in the context of protection of constitutional values. By citing the examples of Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh, which saw protracted legal and political battles before the operation succeeded, Gehlot has suggested that Modi did little to stop the machinations.
Asserting that he was confident that truth, healthy democratic traditions and constitutional values will triumph ultimately, Gehlot wrote: “I am disappointed that when saving people’s life and livelihood is the primary responsibility of governments, the ruling party at the Centre was playing a key role in the conspiracy to topple the government instead of focusing on Corona management.”
Gehlot rubbed in the message: “The same allegation was levelled during the toppling game in Madhya Pradesh and your party got a bad name in the entire country.”
Without directly saying so, the letter contrasted Modi’s silence with the stand Gehlot had adopted earlier.
“Among them (the BJP leaders involved with the ongoing toppling bid) is Bhanwarlal Sharma who had tried to pull down the BJP’s Bhairon Singh Shekhawat government in the past through horse trading. Money had reached several MLAs. Then I, as the Congress state chief, had opposed the plot before governor Baliram Bhagat and the then Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao. I had said pulling down governments by purchasing MLAs is unconstitutional and betrayal of people’s mandate,” Gehlot said in the letter.
Stressing the gravity of destabilising governments in the midst of a pandemic, Gehlot added: “Our first priority in this crisis of Covid is to protect lives. Under these circumstances, attempts to pull down the Rajasthan government are going on.”