Pilot hardens stance, to skip 2nd CLP meetUpdated: Jul 14, 2020 00:02 IST
New Delhi: Rajasthan deputy chief minister Sachin Pilot will not attend the Congress Legislature Party (CLP) meeting in Jaipur on Tuesday, people familiar with the development said.
This will be the second CLP meeting to be skipped by Pilot after he did not attend Monday’s meet even as there seems to be no immediate resolution to the ongoing power struggle between him and chief minister Ashok Gehlot.
A Congress leader close to Pilot said the issues raised by him remain and unless those are addressed he will not attend any such meeting.
However, a central functionary insisted that the CLP meeting has been called to give Pilot, who is also the Rajasthan Congress president, and his supporters another chance to explain their position and put forth their grievances so that those could be addressed.
Asked if the party will take any action if he and his supporters again do not attend the CLP meeting, the functionary said, “We will take that call tomorrow. Pilot will then not be in a position to say that he had not been given a chance to be heard.”
The functionary also ruled out any move to call an emergency session of the assembly and go for the floor test. “We sort of held the floor test today and had a proper head count. So far, 109 legislators are with us and we expect some more to join us,” he added.
But Pilot’s loyalists dismissed the Gehlot camp’s claim of having the required numbers and said majority is proven in the assembly, not in the backyard of the chief minister’s house.
“If they have the numbers then why are they after Pilot. Let them enjoy. Why were these legislators not taken to the Governor’s house? If they have 109 MLAs, why are only 84 rooms booked in the hotel? And if you have counted them, why are you holding them back? Let them go back to their constituencies. This is the false bravado,” said a legislator close to the deputy chief minister.
He also ruled out the possibility of Pilot joining the BJP. “That is not in his DNA. He cannot join the BJP,” added the legislator quoted above.
Pilot’s loyalists also refuted reports suggesting that a compromise formula is being worked out to iron out the differences, maintaining that they will not agree anything less than change of guard in the state.
While Congress functionaries said the party leadership, including Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, reached out to Pilot, another legislator close to the deputy chief minister refuted the claim and insisted that no one spoke to him.
“There has been no conversation between Pilot and the Congress high command,” he said.
Ladnun MLA Mukesh Bhakar maintained that over 30 legislators are supporting the deputy chief minister.
He said their only demand is to replace Gehlot with Pilot given that the state Congress president was instrumental in the party’s victory in the 2018 assembly elections. “We will not budge from that demand,” Bhakar asserted.
Bhakar, who is also the Rajasthan Youth Congress president, further termed the CLP meeting at Gehlot’s residence “invalid” as such meetings are not held in the back garden of the chief minister’s residence.