Pilot rebels, claims support of 30 Cong MLAs

Rajasthan Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot on Sunday declared open rebellion, claiming that the Ashok Gehlot government is in minority now as over 30 Congress MLAs are supporting him.

In a statement, the state Congress chief also said he will not attend the Congress Legislature Party meeting scheduled to be held Monday.

Pilot says Ashok Gehlot in minority after over 30 Congress and some independent MLAs have pledged support, the statement on his official WhatsApp group said.

His statement surfaced just as ministers and Congress MLAs were gathering at Gehlot’s official residence in the state capital for a meeting, meant to express support to the chief minister amid the power tussle between the two leaders.

Soon after Pilot’s announcement, Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said the party remained intact and the government will complete its five-year term.

Surjewala and AICC general secretary Avinash Pande were in Jaipur to attend Sunday’s meeting at the CM’s residence and legislature party meeting on Monday as observers.

Ajay Maken was also headed there, as the Congress tries to avert the loss of another state after Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh.

Party leaders were a huddle at the CM’s residence till late at night after Pilot’s announcement.

Gehlot and other leaders are said to be in touch with allies and independent MLAs supporting the government, hoping to ensure at Monday’s meeting that the Congress government had the numbers to retain power.

Pilot had been incommunicado for about two days.

The All India Congress Committee general secretary in-charge of the state, Avinash Pande, said he had been trying to get in touch with the leader. I have left messages for him,” he told PTI.

Pilot’s supporters said he was camping in Delhi and was upset over a notice sent to him by the Rajasthan police, who claimed to have stumbled on a plot to topple the Congress government.

The notice from the Special Operations Group had (SOG) sought time from him to record a statement.

The same notice was also sent to Gehlot, Government Chief Whip Mahesh Joshi and some other MLAs, but those close to Pilot insisted that it was meant to humiliate him.

Sunday’s meeting at the CM’s official residence was scheduled to take place at 9 pm. Minutes later, Pilot’s statement surfaced.

Independent MLAs supporting the Gehlot government had also been invited in what was planned to be a show of strength for Gehlot.

Gehlot had alleged Saturday that the opposition BJP was trying to lure Congress MLAs to topple the state government.

The BJP dismissed the claim, saying the recent developments only reflected a power struggle between Gehlot and Pilot, simmering since the Congress leadership in Delhi picked the more senior politician for the CM’s post.

Congress leader Kapil Sibal had tweeted his concern during the day. Worried for our party. Will we wake up only after the horses have bolted from our stables?” he asked.

Sports Minister Ashok Chandna had even urged MLAs to learn a lesson from what happened in Madhya Pradesh, where Jyotiraditya Scindia switched over to the BJP.

Any person who crosses the party line will not be respected anywhere in the world. This is not the time to lose the respect earned over generations, Chandna said, without naming anyone.

But as the drama unfolded, Scindia himself put out a tweet saying he was sad to see Pilot being sidelined in his party.

Hours before the scheduled meeting at the CM’s residence, Revenue Minister Harish Choudhary, Labour Minister Tikaram Jully, Health Minister Raghu Sharma and several other MLAs met Gehlot.

We have faith in the leadership of Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and we have expressed this to him, Independent MLA Babulal Nagar told reporters.

Sports Minister Ashok Chandna urged party MLAs to take a lesson from the recent developments in Madhya Pradesh, where Jyotiraditiya Scindia switched sides.

Any person who crosses the party line will not be respected anywhere in the world. This is not the time to lose the respect earned over generations, Chandna said, without naming anyone.

In a tweet Sunday, Gehlot stressed that the police notices had gone to several people, including him. He did not name Pilot, but said a section of the media had interpreted the notices wrongly.

The notices have been issued to the chief minister, the deputy chief minister, the government chief whip and some other MLAs. It is a part of the process, SOG Additional Director General Ashok Rathore told PTI on Sunday.

He said as the investigation proceeds, others could also be issued notices.

Apart from the SOG inquiry, the state’s Anti Corruption Bureau has also begun a probe into the alleged bid to bring down the government.

The Congress government has distanced itself from the three independent MLAs — Khushveer Singh, Omprakash Hudla and Suresh Tak — who were named in ACB’s preliminary enquiry (PE).

Earlier, the government had the support of all 13 independent MLAs, who also voted for the Congress candidates in the Rajya Sabha elections last month.

At a press conference Saturday, Gehlot had cited the FIR lodged by the SOG to accuse the BJP of trying to bring down his government and cited the FIR registered by the SOG.

The FIR is based on an alleged tapped phone conversation between two men, said to be BJP members, who were later arrested.

In the present 200-member assembly, the Congress has 107 members and the BJP 72.
See also  Economy suffered another setback, imports and exports fell in September


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here
Captcha verification failed!
CAPTCHA user score failed. Please contact us!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.