‘If a general secretary is on mission…’: Rajasthan minister targets Maken, ‘traitor’ Pilot
In a video, Rajasthan cabinet minister Shanti Dhariwal said the loyalists of chief minister Ashok Gehlot want someone from their camp to become his successor and that whatever the decision of Congress interim chief Sonia Gandhi is, it will be duly respected.
Rajasthan cabinet minister Shanti Dhariwal on Monday took a veiled swipe at his party colleague and former deputy chief minister of the state Sachin Pilot, saying “MLAs will not sit through and tolerate [if] traitors [are] being rewarded”. His statement only signals the deepening political turmoil in the state where supporters of chief minister Ashok Gehlot and Pilot fight it out over the appointment of the former's successor if he gets elected as the Congress president in the forthcoming elections.
Gehlot loyalists continue to stand their ground against Pilot taking over as the new chief minister, and demand that one among the 102 MLAs in their camp be named for the top post.
In a video shared by news agency ANI, Dhariwal said disgruntled lawmakers of Rajasthan asked him to “listen to their voice”.
“I listened to their woes and their demands for three hours. They have demanded that a person from their camp (Gehlot supporters) be made the next chief minister of Rajasthan," the minister added.
The minister further said that if a general secretary of the party is on a mission to make such people (Pilot) the chief minister, it makes complete sense for the MLAs to get “angry and disgruntled”. This is apparently aimed at Ajay Maken, who along with Mallikarjun Kharge had gone to the state to placate the crisis.
"It was 100 per cent a conspiracy to remove the CM (Gehlot) and general secretary in-charge was a part of it. I am not talking about anyone else, no charge on Kharge, but only the general secretary in-charge," he further said.
Dhariwal said that Congress interim boss Sonia Gandhi can choose anyone from the Gehlot camp, and whatever her decision is that will be duly accepted and obliged. “No one can challenge Sonia ji's decision,” he is heard saying in the video in Hindi.
The political crisis in Rajasthan took a deep plunge on Sunday evening when Gehlot’s supporters did not show up at a state legislative party meeting at the residence of the chief minister itself in the presence of Congress central observers Maken and Kharge. Instead, they conducted a parallel meeting with Dhariwal at his residence, and later more than 90 lawmakers submitted their resignation to Speaker CP Joshi.
Commenting on the turn of events, Maken earlier in the day said it was an “act of indiscipline” shown by Gehlot’s supporters when they held a separate meeting without going to the CLP meet. He and Kharge returned to Delhi earlier in the evening, and met Gandhi to discuss the political developments in Rajasthan.
Speaking with reporters after the meeting, Maken said that Gandhi has sought a “written report” from the central observers which they will provide to her by “tonight or tomorrow”.
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