Congress puts rebel BJP leader under home quarantine ahead of bypoll

Rajasthan these days is witnessing the unfolding of an interesting political drama.

Ladulal Pitliya, a BJP leader who turned Independent before returning to the saffron party fold, has grabbed eyeballs for his frequent party-switching. On Monday, he came to the BJP office, claiming to be a disciplined party worker.

However, the ruling Congress government in the state soon put up a notice at his place directing him to go for home quarantine for 15 days referring to his inability to present a RT-PCR test report, indirectly stopping him from campaigning for the bypoll to the Sahada Assembly seat in Bhilwara scheduled on April 17.

Without any delay, the BJP trained its guns on the Ashok Gehlot-led Congress government, with its national general secretary and Rajasthan in-charge Arun Singh questioning the functioning of the ruling dispensation.

Singh asked the Chief Minister if Covid test reports were collected from the Congress in-charge and other party leaders when they came from other states during the filing of nomination papers on March 30.

Rajasthan BJP said in a tweet, “Congress government is in a state of shock to see BJP moving towards victory. Pitliya has been sent to home quarantine for 15 days. Will the state government tell if (Ashok) Gehlot ji, (Govind Singh) Dotasara and (Sachin) Pilot get tested after coming from outside the state recently?”

The Congress and the BJP are engaged in a tug-of-war over this candidate ever since Pitliya, a big time businessman from Sahada who has an established business in Karnataka, announced to contest the bypoll as an Independent candidate.

Pitliya had left the BJP in 2018 after he was denied a ticket to contest the Assembly elections, which he fought as an Independent, garnering 30,000 votes. In February this year, he returned to the BJP, but the ticket for the Sahada bypoll was given to Ratanlal Jat. Anguished by the decision, he left the party and announced to contest the polls as an Independent. Pitliya has a strong hold in the Jain community and could have dented the BJP’s prospects and hence the Congress was happy with the development.

Meanwhile, his purported audio clip and letter to the Chief Minister went viral on social media in which he allegedly sough security and accused the BJP of threatening to spoil his trade status in Karnataka which is ruled by the saffron party. The audio clip claimed that his family was allegedly threatened to force him to withdraw his candidature.

Following the developments, the Congress accused the BJP of using wrong tactics in polls.

However, Pitliya came to the BJP office on Monday claiming to be a saffron party loyalist.

Soon after, the Congress government barred him from campaigning by putting up a notice in front of his house, alleging that Pitliya had failed to produce a negative RT-PCR report after coming to Rajasthan from another state. He has been directed to home isolate himself for the next 15 days.