Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot hit out at the BJP Saturday afternoon, accusing the party of playing politics and buying over MLAs to destabilise the Congress government in the state, even as the deadly coronavirus outbreak continues to affect the country.
Mr Gehlot alleged that the BJP, which is the main opposition in the state, was offering MLAs up to Rs 15 crore or "favours" to switch allegiances and help topple his government.
"While the state government kept working for the people during the COVID-19 crisis, the BJP has continued to cause problems," Mr Gehlot began.
"I want the nation to know that while the Congress in Rajasthan takes everyone alone, even those who oppose us, the BJP is now crossing all limits. They are making increasing efforts to topple my government," he added.
Mr Gehlot referred to changes in the government in both Karnataka last year and Madhya Pradesh in June - both instances where a Congress (or Congress-led) government was replaced by the BJP amid allegations of MLA poaching.
"We keep hearing talk of money being offered to MLAs to switch sides. Some have been promised up to Rs 15 crores and some have been assured of other favours. This is happening on a constant basis," he said.
"The BJP's (true) face has been exposed ever since their victory in 2014. What they first did covertly, they now do overtly. You saw this in Goa, Madhya Pradesh and the north-eastern states".
Mr Gehlot also hit out at a "shameless" BJP and said they "bought seven MLAs in Gujarat" to win last month's Rajya Sabha election.
"They tried to do the same thing in Rajasthan but we stopped them and gave them a lesson they will remember for a long time," he added.
"The people are seeing everything and this arrogance of the BJP will be broken in coming elections. The people of India will teach the BJP a lesson," Mr Gehlot declared.
The latest round of rumours that the BJP was trying to poach MLAs emerged after some Congress leaders claimed that senior leaders of the BJP were involved in a "conspiracy".
Chief Whip Mahesh Joshi, who has filed a complaint with the SOG (special operations group) and ACB (anti-corruption bureau) of Rajasthan Police, told news agency ANI the BJP was "terrified".
An MLA from Kushalgarh in south Rajasthan, who was been named as one of those approached by the BJP, has categorically denied the allegation.
Last week Mr Joshi and Deputy Chief Whip Mahendra Chaudhary issued a statement on behalf of 24 MLAs that said: "Congress MLAs and legislators who are in support of the government will not let this be successful".
There was no immediate reaction from the BJP.
The Congress holds 107 seats in the 200-strong Rajasthan Assembly and has support from 12 independent candidates. In addition, five MLAS from other parties - the Rashtriya Lok Dal, the CPI (M) and the Bharatiya Tribal Party - support Mr Gehlot.
Ahead of last month's Rajya Sabha elections a Congress unsettled by events in Madhya Pradesh in March, and faced with similar events in Gujarat, moved its MLAs to a resort.
Two days before that Mr Gehlot told NDTV he had heard "reports that the BJP is willing to spend up to 25 to 30 crore per MLA".
With input from ANI, PTI