Moments before Gehlot’s show of strength meet, photo-op to make his point
The Congress-led alliance in Rajasthan had the support of 125 lawmakers - 107 from the Congress - before Sachin Pilot, the party’s state unit chief and Gehlot’s deputy in the government, threatened to walk out of the party.Updated: Jul 13, 2020 15:09 IST
Ahead of a meeting of Rajasthan lawmakers supporting his government, chief minister Ashok Gehlot invited the media into his official residence for a photo session to back up his claim that the rebellion by deputy chief minister Sachin Pilot hadn’t succeeded in reducing his government to a minority. Gehlot camp leaders have claimed that the chief minister had the support of more than 101 lawmakers, the majority mark in the 200-member assembly.
Not everyone of the 107-plus lawmakers claimed by Gehlot’s camp was present. Gehlot’s supporters said some more MLAs were on their way to the chief minister’s official residence. The meeting, scheduled to begin at 10.30 am, was reportedly put off to enable more lawmakers to join in.
Congress leaders Ajay Maken, Randeep Singh Surjewala and Rajasthan in-charge Avinash Pande were also present at the meeting.
Ashok Gehlot will address a media briefing after the meeting of lawmakers is over.
The Congress-led alliance in Rajasthan had the support of 125 lawmakers - 107 from the Congress - before Sachin Pilot, the party’s state unit chief and Gehlot’s deputy in the government, threatened to walk out of the party.
Sachin Pilot, who had led the Congress’s campaign for the 2018, has been sore that he hadn’t received his due. Gehlot had agreed to have him as his deputy in the government at the end of negotiations running into several days but has been accused by Pilot’s camp of undercutting the 42-year-old ever since. Lately, Gehlot’s camp had been nudging the leadership to drop Pilot from the Rajasthan Congress chief’s post.
Congress leaders have been on an overdrive to save the government after Sachin Pilot’s camp last evening claimed to have the support of 30 lawmakers, spending a sleepless night to reach out to each legislator and allies to get them to support Gehlot. At a 2.30 am press conference, Rajasthan Congress in-charge Avinash Pande claimed to have letters of support from 109 lawmakers. Some more, he said, would sign by morning.
Before the meeting of lawmakers started at the chief minister’s official residence, Randeep Surjewala declared that the party hadn’t shut its doors on Sachin Pilot. The Congress leadership has spoken to Pilot a number of times over the last 48 hours and if anyone is upset in a family, they should be sitting together with other members to work things out.
“On behalf of Congress leadership, including Sonia ji and Rahul ji, I convey that doors of Congress party are always open for Sachin ji or any member,” Surjewala said.
There has been no word from Sachin Pilot’s camp about his next step. But the Rajasthan Congress appeared to be prepping to its future minus Pilot in the leadership role. At the state party headquarters about 7 km away , party workers had taken down posters and banners that had a photograph of the state unit chief.