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In tight Rajasthan race, Congress and BJP woo rebels, plan to barricade winning MLAs

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In case of a hung assembly, nearly two dozen independents, rebels and smaller party candidates who may get elected are being wooed by both sides intensively. JAIPUR: Ahead of the election verdict in Rajasthan on Sunday, leaders of both the Congress and BJP are publicly claiming that they will get a clear majority and form the next government. Despite the outward confidence, the traditional rivals are making hectic preparations in case the verdict pans out as close as the exit polls on the state have predicted. In case of a hung assembly, nearly two dozen independents, rebels and smaller party candidates who may get elected are being wooed by both sides intensively. Major preparations have been made including helicopters which are ready to airlift winning candidates. The buzz suggests that if the Congress falls short, all its MLAs and those supporting it may be moved away quickly to Bengaluru, the capital of Congress-ruled Karnataka, while if the BJP falls short, the party could take all its MLAs and supporters to Gujarat. According to highly placed sources in both parties, those who have left the party and turned rebels are being told that they belong to the family and if they win and come back, the party will give him full respect and there will be no complaints of any kind against them. Similarly, all kinds of inducements are being given to independents. Both the parties have prepared a list of about 15 independents, with whom talks are being held. Both the parties have kept these preparations completely confidential and have even booked helicopters and planes. Congress has kept its leaders on standby so that the rebels and independents can be sent by helicopter to Jaipur and then onwards to other locations. BJP leaders are publicly claiming that they do not need any support as their party is getting full majority, but internally top leaders are in contact with the rebels and independents. Leader of Opposition Rajendra Rathore and State President CP Joshi remained busy in meetings.   Besides meeting Governor Karaj Mishra last night, Vasundhara Raje is reportedly reaching out to independents and rebels who could support the BJP if they win. A few of her loyalists are also contesting elections as independents and rebels. Vasundhara Raje also went to Bharti Bhawan where she had a long discussion with RSS officials. After voting, she has been meeting leaders and candidates continuously for a few days and has also contacted rebels/independents who have the potential to win. Among Raje's supporters who did not get tickets, Yunus Khan can win from Nagaur seat and former Assembly Speaker Kailash Meghwal is also contesting from Shahpura seat. Leaders close to Raje are claiming to have got some signals from the high command. CM Ashok Gehlot is continuously meeting party candidates at his residence. Many Congress candidates, including those considered to be Pilot supporters, also met Gehlot who has taken feedback on every seat. Gehlot is in constant touch about seats where rebels and independents are strong. Independents have been asked to reach Jaipur tomorrow itself. Preparations are also being made keeping in mind the possibility of a hung assembly. (THE NEW INDIAN EXPRESS)

89 Days ago