Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot tells Cong MLAs backing him to ‘stand firm like a rock’
Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot said on Tuesday he has the support of more than 115 legislators as the simmering tiff with his former deputy Sachin Pilot boiled over and triggered the ongoing political crisis in the state.
Gehlot was addressing the more than 100 members of legislative assembly (MLAs) in the third meeting of the Congress Legislature Party (CLP) at Fairmont Jaipur, a luxury hotel where his supporters have been staying, since last week.
He also urged the legislators supporting him to “stand firm like a rock” and assured them that the mandate is with the Congress party as the turf war with Pilot whittled down to the numbers.
“We will have more than 115 MLAs, including some from among the absentees. And nobody wants elections to happen be it Congress or the BJP,” he said during the meeting, according to people aware of the developments.
He also had some words of praise for the MLAs.
“The entire country is watching the way you’re fighting. Your respect has increased manifold. It’s not something ordinary,” he said, according to news agency ANI.
“All of you have phones. There’s no pressure on anyone,” he said.
Senior party leader Ajay Maken and state unit president Govind Singh Dotasra were among others present at the CLP meeting.
The Rajasthan chief minister has also called a meeting of his cabinet later in the day, leading to another buzz about a floor test.
Meanwhile, the Rajasthan High Court said it will pronounce its order on Friday on the petition by Sachin Pilot and 18 other rebel Congress MLAs challenging the disqualification notices served to them by the speaker of the state assembly, CP Joshi, last week for “anti-party activities”.
The court also requested the speaker to defer any action against Pilot and legislators in his camp till then.
If the high court decides to disqualify Pilot and members of his camp, it will have a direct bearing on the numbers in the Rajasthan assembly.
Their disqualification will bring down the majority mark in the assembly—101 in the 200-member house making it easier for chief minister Gehlot to win a floor test. Gehlot has claimed he has the support of more than 100 members of legislative assembly (MLAs) and Pilot is being backed by 18 legislators.
The disqualification notices to Pilot and the MLAs were served after the Congress party complained to Rajasthan assembly speaker Joshi that they defied a whip to attend two CLP meetings on July 13 and July 14.
After he gave the meetings a slip, Pilot was sacked as the Rajasthan deputy chief minister and the president of the state Congress unit as he rebelled against Gehlot.