Rajasthan’s Minister of State for Soldiers’ Welfare Rajendra Gudha has created a flutter in the political circles here after he claimed that he was offered a bribe of ₹25 crore for voting in favour of a particular candidate in the Rajya Sabha elections, which held in June this year. Mr. Gudha did not refer to any party or leader while making the claim.
Mr. Gudha made the allegation at an event organised at a private school in his Assembly constituency Udaipurwati, Jhunjhunu district on Monday. The video footage of the programme, in which he interacted with the students, surfaced on the social media on Tuesday.
The Minister, who is the most vocal among the six MLAs who had switched from Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) to the ruling Congress in 2019, also said that he was similarly offered ₹60 crore during the political crisis caused by a rebellion against Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot in July 2020. He said he did not think twice before rejecting the offers of bribe.
Mr. Gudha’s sensational claim assumed significance in the light of Mr. Gehlot’s repeated accusations that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had hatched a conspiracy to pull down his government by offering crores of rupees to the Congress MLAs as well as the independent legislators supporting the government.
The BJP had extended support to independent candidate and media baron Subhash Chandra in the Rajya Sabha elections held for four seats from the State. While Mr. Chandra was defeated, three Congress candidates – Randeep Surjewala, Mukul Wasnik and Pramod Tiwari – and BJP’s Ghanshyam Tiwari had won the polls.
“When I discussed about these offers with my wife, son and daughter, they said our intentions should be clear on what we do... We don’t need such money,” Mr. Gudha said. Appointed a Minister of State during the Cabinet expansion in November 2021, Mr. Gudha was elected on the BSP ticket in the 2018 Assembly election and merged with Congress with his five colleagues next year.
The BSP turncoats have been complaining for the last few months that the promises made to them were not fulfilled. Mr. Gudha said recently that the BSP-turned-Congress MLAs did not fit in the Congress culture and the attitude of the Cabinet Ministers towards them was “unfair”, even though he had convinced his fellow legislators to join the Congress on behalf of Mr. Gehlot.
While Mr. Gudha and the five other MLAs remained in the Gehlot camp when the then Deputy CM Sachin Pilot and 18 other Congress legislators staged a rebellion, he is stated to be unhappy because of getting a department of “lesser importance” as a Minister. Political observers here believe that by claiming to have spurned the offers of bribe, Mr. Gudha may be trying to impress upon the Congress the significance of his support during the crisis.
Despite the rhetoric of Mr. Gudha and his fellow legislators, Mr. Gehlot has been giving the credit of saving his government collectively to the BSP-turned-Congress MLAs, Independents and the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and Bharatiya Tribal Party (BTP) legislators.