- The Bhartiya Tribal Party says it plays important role amid crisis
- Its 2 MLAs supported ruling Congress in the state in Rajya Sabha polls
- Last week, they made it clear that they are with Ashok Gehlot
Rajasthan's Bhartiya Tribal Party says it now plays an important role in deciding who will remain in power despite its small presence in the state assembly. "We have two MLAs in a House of 200, yet we are in the position of kingmakers," party president Maheshbhai C Vasava told PTI on Sunday.
BTP legislators Rajkumar Roat and Ramprasad Dindor made it clear on Saturday that they are with Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, ending days of uncertainty over where the Gujarat-based party's loyalty lies.
The two MLAs supported the ruling Congress in the state in last month's Rajya Sabha polls. But when the power tussle between Mr Gehlot and his now sacked deputy Sachin Pilot re-surfaced recently, the BTP said it will remain neutral.
Mr Vasava said the party is now extending support to Mr Gehlot after an assurance that its demands related to the development of tribal areas will be met.
"We have fought against the Congress and the BJP on tribal issues but if the government now assures full support on the issues raised by us, why shouldn't we support it? After all it is fulfilling the agenda of tribal welfare and development," he said.
When the crisis began last week, Mr Vasava issued a whip directing both Mr Roat and Mr Dindor not to support any leader or party in case there is a floor test in the assembly.
However, Sagwara MLA Ramprasad Dindor expressed defiance of the whip, saying both of them will support the state government.
Later, party office-bearers and the MLAs held discussions with the Chief Minister on their demands.
"We had supported the Congress government in the Rajya Sabha elections last month after an assurance by the Chief Minister on our demands," Chorasi MLA Roat said.
"But the demands were not fulfilled. Some of them could have been met in just one day," he complained.
The party then thought of not extending support to him, the MLA said.
Last week, Mr Roat appeared in two video clips, alleging that he was being stopped by Rajasthan police from travelling to his constituency in Dungarpur district.
He claimed that police personnel had come in two vans and taken away his car keys. He also alleged that some people were forcing him to come with them.
The videos were circulated by the Sachin Pilot camp and the BJP had questioned the state government over them.
But Mr Raut later dismissed the episode as a "misunderstanding" with police.