Rajasthan: How CM Gehlot is reaching out to rebel MLAs
In a development that reaffirms that there are no permanent foes and friends in politics, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot has tried to reach out to MLAs close to his former deputy Sachin Pilot ahead of the crucial Assembly session. Accused of sidelining Pilot's camp, Gehlot announced a fair share of colleges for constituencies governed by these legislators. Here's more.
Last month, Pilot, a famous face in Rajasthan and Delhi circles, announced a revolt against Gehlot. Along with his loyalists, he camped in Haryana, declaring that Gehlot no longer enjoys the majority in the 200-member strong Assembly. Congress tried placating Pilot, who wanted CM's chair since 2018 polls, but didn't succeed. Eventually, Pilot was sacked as state Congress chief and deputy CM.
To recall, Pilot and 18 of his loyal MLAs were also served disqualification notices by Speaker CP Joshi. But Rajasthan High Court gave them a breather, ordering that "status quo" must be maintained. The rebels contested that opposing the leadership is no ground for disqualification. Notably, throughout the raging crisis, they have been calling for Gehlot to be replaced, claiming he let them down.
Now, Gehlot, whose persistence forced Rajasthan Governor Kalraj Mishra to call an Assembly session from August 14, is trying to prove that he didn't ignore Pilot's camp. A few days ago, he announced colleges and didn't overlook constituencies of rebels. Moreover, he also amended the Rajasthan Judicial Services Rules, 2010, extending the 5% More Backward Classes (MBC) reservation, in a bid to impress Gujjars.
In fact, Gehlot is also focusing on tribal areas of south Rajasthan, seen as a bastion of the Bharatiya Tribal Party (BTP). The party has two MLAs in the Assembly and their support is important for the survival of Gehlot's regime.
Meanwhile, a report in The Hindu claimed a deal is likely between both factions of the Congress and the rebels are willing to attend the Assembly session. Recently, Pilot's camp toned down which was evident when the 42-year-old congratulated Govind Singh Dotasra, who succeeded him as the president of the state Congress unit. Pilot's aide Gajendra Singh Shaktawat confirmed they would visit Jaipur soon.
Saying that the fight against Gehlot was driven by "self-respect," Shaktawat informed that Pilot and others were still in touch with Congress' top brass and were hoping for an amicable solution. He took note of Pilot's unceremonious exit and added that only a Governor can sack a minister. Shaktawat also said Pilot's camp was not in touch with BJP, as propagated by Gehlot.
"None of us has met with any BJP leader, neither has anyone from the BJP come to meet us. We are staying in Haryana because the COVID-19 epidemic is spreading fast in Delhi," he added.