Sachin Pilot not joining BJP, says his aide amid turmoil in Rajasthan Congress
Rajasthan deputy chief minister Sachin Pilot is not joining the BJP nor is there any meeting planned with the opposition party, a close aide of the leader told Hindustan Times on Monday.
However, Pilot will not be attending the legislature party meeting called by chief minister Ashok Gehlot at 10:30 am. Pilot, who has been away from Jaipur since Saturday, will continue to camp in Delhi.
Late last night, Pilot’s office issued a statement saying the Gehlot government is in a minority and claimed the support of 30 MLAs. A few hours later, at a 2:30 am press conference, the Congress said a total of “109 MLAs have signed a letter expressing their trust and support to a government led by CM Ashok Gehlot”.
Party’s Rajasthan in-charge Avinash Pande said a whip has been issued to all party MLAs to be mandatorily present at the Monday legislature party meeting, adding strict disciplinary action will be taken against any MLA who is absent without mentioning any reason.
Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala and Ajay Maken were sent to Jaipur to stem the fallout from the brewing political crisis in the state unit over differences between the CM and his deputy.
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 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 reahed 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.
Gehlot had alleged on Saturday that the BJP is trying to topple his government, a charge vehemently denied by the opposition party.
For the Congress, the developments in Rajasthan could be reminiscent of what happened in Madhya Pradesh in March, when 24 legislators owing allegiance to Scindia resigned from the party and the state assembly, reducing chief minister Kamal Nath’s government to a minority.
In the 200-member Rajasthan assembly, the Congress has the support of 125 MLAs, including 107 of its own legislators. The majority mark is 101. The BJP has 72 legislators and has the support of three of Hanuman Beniwal’s Rashtriya Loktantrik Party (RPL).