At 2:30 am press conference, Congress says 109 Rajasthan MLAs support it
A whip has been issued to all party MLAs to be mandatorily present at Congress legislature party meeting to be held on Monday morningUpdated: Jul 13, 2020 08:13 IST
Hours after a late night statement by Sachin Pilot’s media office about Ashok Gehlot government being in minority, the Congress, at a 2:30 am meeting, said it had the backing of 109 legislators. The majority mark in the 200-member assembly is 101.
“A total of 109 MLAs have signed a letter expressing their trust and support to government led by CM Ashok Gehlot and leadership of Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi.Few more MLAs had telephonic conversation with the CM and they’ll also sign letter of support till morning,” said Rajasthan Congress in-charge Avinash Pande late into the night at a press conference after a legislature party meeting at Ashok Gehlot’s residence in Jaipur.
Pande said a whip has been issued to all party MLAs to be mandatorily present at Congress legislature party meeting to be held on Monday morning, adding strict disciplinary action will be taken against any MLA who is absent without mentioning any reason.
The Rajasthan state-in charge upon being asked if he met Sachin Pilot in Delhi feigned ignorance about the latter’s presence in the national capital.
Deputy CM Sachin Pilot, who has been camping in Delhi with his MLAs, has said he will not be attending the meeting.
The Congress had rushed two central observers – Randeep Singh Surjewala and Ajay Maken – to Jaipur yesterday in a bid to iron out differences between Pilot and CM Ashok Gehlot, who have differed on a number of issues since the formation of the party’s government in 2018.
“The Ashok Gehlot government is in minority after over 30 Congress and some independent MLAs have pledged their support to Sachin Pilot,” said the statement released by Pilot’s media office yesterday.
In the 200-member assembly, the Congress has the support of 125 MLAs, including 107 of its own legislators. The party has the backing of 13 independents and five from other parties. The majority mark is 101. The BJP has 72 legislators and has the support of three of Hanuman Beniwal’s Rashtriya Loktantrik Party (RPL).
Pilot’s supporters said he has raised issues against the functioning of Gehlot over the past fortnight with the party’s state in-charge and general secretary, Avinash Pande, Congress organisation secretary KC Venugopal and senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel in Delhi.“His concerns were not addressed,” said a party leader considered close to Pilot.
The ongoing crisis in the desert state reached a tipping point when Pilot received a notice from the special operations group (SOG) of Rajasthan police to record his statement regarding the alleged attempt to topple the Congress government in the state.
The Congress sought to downplay it, saying a similar notice was sent to Gehlot as well. Leaders close to Pilot called it a “joke” since the chief minister is also in charge of the home department that oversees the police force. Pilot’s camp said the July 10 notice is yet another move to “humiliate” the deputy chief minister and “undermine” his authority.
With Pilot rushing to Delhi on Saturday, some Congress legislators backing him and a few Rajasthan BJP MLAs are said to be staying in a five-star hotel in Manesar on the outskirts of Delhi.
For the Congress, the developments in Rajasthan could be reminiscent of what happened in Madhya Pradesh in March, when 24 legislators owing allegiance to Jyotiraditya Scindia resigned from the party and the state assembly, reducing chief minister Kamal Nath’s government to a minority. Scindia is now in the BJP camp.