Rajasthan: Open for talks, says Congress after Sachin Pilot revolts
With "rebel" Sachin Pilot deriding Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot in public, the Congress government on Monday extended an olive branch to him saying that differences can be resolved. Congress' spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said he was making the offer on behalf of the top brass. Meanwhile, Pilot's claim that the Gehlot government is in minority fell flat after today's meeting. Here's what happened.
Background: Pilot fumed after he was summoned on "false" allegations
The latest flashpoint between Gehlot and Pilot, who have rarely seen eye-to-eye since 2018 Assembly polls, was triggered after the junior politician was summoned in connection to a case, pertaining to the alleged collapse of the government. Seeing it as humiliation, Pilot camped in Delhi while announcing that he has the support of 30 MLAs. Congress, on the other hand, said 109 MLAs support Gehlot.
Over 100 MLAs support Congress. Gehlot's chair intact for now?
Faced with a Madhya Pradesh-like fate, Congress scrambled to appease disgruntled MLAs. This morning, a key meeting was held at Gehlot's residence in Jaipur, which all legislators were asked to attend. To prove he has the numbers on his side, Gehlot invited media to show that about 100 MLAs were with him. He also flashed a V-sign, hinting that he has won.
Pilot, who lost show of strength, was welcomed for talks
Notably, what was supposed to be Gehlot's test, turned out to be Pilot's as his show of strength dwindled. Reports said he has the support of only 10 MLAs, not enough to threaten the current government. In the 200-seated Assembly, Congress claimed it has the support of 109 MLAs. Despite a big advantage today, Congress walked carefully, telling Pilot publicly that he was "welcome."
Congress is one big family, said Surjewala, downplaying the crisis
In an attempt to woo Pilot, who is the Congress chief in Rajasthan, Surjewala said the party is one big family. "On behalf of Congress leadership, including Sonia Ji and Rahul Ji, I convey that doors of Congress party are always open for Sachin Ji or any member," he added. He claimed that in the last 48 hours, Congress' leadership spoke to Pilot many times.
Concerns should be raised on party forum: Surjewala
"If anyone, be at any post or profile, has any problem, they must come forward and mention the issue on the party forum. We will work to resolve it together and keep our government intact in the state," Surjewala added.
Surjewala also said BJP trying desperate ways to topple government
Lashing out at BJP, Surjewala said the party uses institutions like CBI and ED to intimidate elected governments. Notably, earlier today, Income Tax officials raided premises of Gehlot's aides. The office and residence of Congress leader Dharmendra Rathore and one Rajiv Arora, a member of the State Congress Office, were raided. Naturally, Congress took a swipe saying when horse-trading "failed," BJP launched desperate attempts.
Pilot's posters were brought down, only to be installed again
As the turmoil continued, Pilot's posters were removed from the Congress' office in Rajasthan. But they were installed again after Surjewala declared the party is open for talks. In what hints that the crisis is solved, and Congress government will remain in power, reports said Pilot's demands related to cabinet allocation will be respected. The case, which sparked the problem, could be dumped too.