Help, We’re Held Hostage, Car Keys Taken: Rajasthan MLA’s Viral Video
Two MLAs of a regional party that withdrew support from the Congress government in Rajasthan today became an interesting sidelight in the political drama over Sachin Pilot’s revolt. The MLAs alleged that they were chased by the police, stopped and virtually held hostage when they tried to leave state capital Jaipur.
The MLAs belong to the Bhartiya Tribal Party (BTP), which pulled out of the Ashok Gehlot government, bringing down numbers as the Congress struggled to keep its flock protected from Sachin Pilot’s rebel camp.
They claimed they were tailed by the police when they were driving from their MLA lodgings in Jaipur to Dungarpur, 500 km away. One of them posted a video alleging that his car keys were snatched by the police.
“The situation right now…it is almost as if we are hostages. For three days we were in the MLA quarters (in Jaipur). Many said come with us, come with us…Today, three-four police cars followed me when I went out to the constituency,” said Rajkumar Roat, BTP legislator from Chorasi.
“The police cars did not let me move. They surrounded me and my car keys were taken away. The police are on both sides. This is badtameezi (misbehaviour),” said the MLA, apparently after he was forced to return to his apartment.
#WATCH Rajkumar Roat, BTP (Bhartiya Tribal Party) MLA from Chorasi in a video, alleges police not letting him move, have taken his car keys and it’s a hostage like situation. #Rajasthanpic.twitter.com/FBbBXCCQoy
— ANI (@ANI) July 14, 2020
A second video he posted showed the police taking away the keys when he was in the car with his colleague, Ram Prasad.
“It is too hot. How long can we sit here? We can hardly run away, you can drive ahead of us, we will follow you,” the MLA says in the video to the policeman, who reaches in to pull out the keys.
The cop replies that he has to stop them since there is “khatra (danger)” ahead.
The two car occupants are heard speaking to each other. “Should we call 100? But that is also theirs,” said the second man, sounding deflated.
The MLAs said they went to the Chief Minister and explained to him that it would not be possible for them to support him and defy their party. It was with some intervention that they were finally able to leave Jaipur at 2 pm.
BTP chief Mahesh Bhai Vasava wrote to his MLAs yesterday saying the party should stay neutral in case of a floor test in the assembly. The MLAs were asked to skip any floor test altogether.
The two legislators had then said they were with Ashok Gehlot. “There is some confusion. Right now we are with the government. But we will take a final decision after talking to our leaders,” they had told NDTV. Today, the situation changed dramatically for Mr Gehlot, who seems to be on the brink at just the half-way mark of 100 in the 200-member state assembly.
During the recent Rajya Sabha election, both legislators had voted for Congress candidates.
Before Sachin Pilot’s revolt, the Congress had 107 MLAs and the support of 13 independents and five from smaller parties. That number has now come down to 90 Congress MLAs, seven independent members and three from smaller parties.