Rajasthan crisis: Sachin Pilot served notice, BJP makes move
By sacking Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot, whose chief ministerial ambitions threatened the stability of the government in Rajasthan, Congress on Tuesday sparked a showdown that may continue for several days. And now, in the latest development, Pilot and his aides have been served notices by Speaker CP Joshi. On the other hand, BJP has dumped "wait and watch mode." Here's what happened.
Pilot, one of the most popular leaders Congress had, was angry with his boss Gehlot, after he was summoned for interrogation earlier this month. The 42-year-old never shared cordial ties with Gehlot and the investigation into an alleged plot to topple the government proved as the last straw. He left Rajasthan, camped in NCR, ignored Congress' overtures, and was finally sacked yesterday.
Congress may no longer need Pilot, who toiled for years to revive the party in Rajasthan, but it's actually treading on a wafer-thin majority in the 200 member-strong Assembly. Though Congress has 107 MLAs, including the Speaker, reportedly only 88 (including Gehlot) attended yesterday's meeting. Some allies haven't opened up about their choice yet. Meanwhile, about 20 MLAs, including one independent, are supporting Pilot.
Congress had earlier indicated that it is mulling legal options and took the first step by sending notices to Pilot and his loyalists. 19 MLAs were asked by Speaker Joshi to explain why they shouldn't be disqualified on grounds that they engaged in anti-party activities. Joshi pointed out they skipped two meetings as well. They were given time till Friday to reply.
Some reports said Congress could use the threat of disqualification to bring back a few MLAs, who have sworn allegiance to Pilot. After meeting Governor Kalraj Mishra, Gehlot told reporters that MLAs can express their lack of confidence and seek his ouster at the legislature party meeting. However, if they ask for a floor test, it attests that BJP is involved, he claimed.
"We know that some of the MLAs will not leave Congress. Some do not want elections, and some do not want to go to the BJP....Only a handful of them will stand by him in whatever decision he takes," a senior leader told IE.
With the noise in Rajasthan only getting louder, Pilot reiterated that he is not joining BJP. He told India Today, "I am not, repeat NOT, joining the BJP, some people are insinuating this to poison the minds of people in leadership positions in Delhi." After he was removed yesterday, Pilot said "truth can't be defeated." In another tweet, he thanked his supporters.
Pilot is also learned to have told the channel that he isn't angry with Gehlot. "But he walked the same path as Vasundhara (Raje, the former CM of Rajasthan)," he added. Saying he wasn't given dignity and wasn't allowed to work, Pilot said, "The notice served to me had sedition charges. My step was a voice against injustice." He said his concerns were ignored.
"I took charge of the party when it was reduced to 21 (seats in Assembly). For the next few years, Gehlot didn't utter a single word. But when we won, he staked claim to CM's chair based on his experience. What experience?" Pilot asked.
While Congress battles infighting, BJP too has decided to get involved. Raje, BJP's tallest leader in the desert state, will attend a meeting in Jaipur. The party's National Vice President Om Mathur, State President Satish Poonia, Leader of Opposition Gulab Chand Katariya, National Joint General Secretary (Organization) V Satish, and State Organization Secretary Chandrashekhar could also be a part of this meeting.