17 Jul 2020
Pilot calls Chidambaram; Congress suspends two MLAs over BJP links
The political crisis in Rajasthan took a surprising turn on Thursday as rebel Sachin Pilot called up senior Congress leader P Chidambaram, days after the party stripped him of two posts.
By calling Chidambaram, who holds an influential position in the Congress Working Committee, Pilot indicated he is still eager for "homecoming."
But Congress looks stern as it suspended two MLAs of Pilot's camp.
Why was Congress' celebrated face sacked? "Blame it on ambitions"
Pilot was made the president of Congress unit after the party faced a humiliating defeat in 2013 Assembly polls. After toiling for years and strengthening the party at the grassroots level, he naturally eyed the Chief Minister's chair.
However, when Congress won the 2018 Assembly elections, it chose senior leader Ashok Gehlot.
The young turk remained miffed, but the tensions peaked last week.
Humiliated after being summoned, Pilot left Rajasthan with loyalists
Earlier this year, an investigation was launched into allegations that attempts were being made to topple the state government. The 42-year-old was also summoned for interrogation; he obviously took it as "humiliation."
Leaving Rajasthan, Pilot camped in Manesar, Haryana, with some of his loyalists, and rebuffed all offers of Congress.
On Tuesday, he was sacked but he declared that he was still with Congress.
Pilot dragged Congress to court, matter will be heard today
Yesterday, Pilot's team approached Rajasthan High Court against notices served by Speaker CP Joshi to him and his aides.
Scheduled for a hearing yesterday, the matter was deferred and will be taken up by a two-member division bench at 1 pm today.
Notably, disqualification of Pilot's aides means Gehlot can easily pass the floor test in the 200-member strong Assembly.
After infuriating Congress, Pilot spoke to Chidambaram
By going to Rajasthan HC, Pilot, some reports said, reached a "point of no return."
Perhaps understanding the repercussions his decision might evoke, he reached out to Chidambaram.
Giving details of their conversation, the senior leader said, "I just reiterated that the leadership had publicly invited him to meet with it, and all issues can be discussed. I advised him to seize the opportunity."
Separately, Congress said BJP's Shekhawat is plotting Gehlot government's fall
Meanwhile, Congress, which is certain BJP wants to destabilize Gehlot's government, addressed media alleging that Union Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat tried to poach their MLAs.
The serious claims were based on audio clips, which emerged on social media, where Shekhawat purportedly made plans with the rebel MLAs.
From staying at a hotel to "giving money," Shekhawat is said to have spoken about many things.
Coronavirus is battering India but BJP has other priorities: Congress
"In March, as soon as the Madhya Pradesh government was brought down, the lockdown was induced. The pandemic has crossed the 1 million-mark. China has captured our territory. Instead of fighting these, the Modi government is busy doing something else," said Congress' Randeep Singh Surjewala.
Congress suspended two MLAs, but left Pilot untouched
Further, Surjewala announced that the party has suspended MLAs Vishvendra Singh and Bhanwarlal Sharma over their links with BJP. Surprisingly, while the two politicians had to forego their primary memberships in the party, no such strict action was taken against Pilot.
All Pilot was asked to do was "clarify his stance."
Subsequently, an FIR was also lodged against Shekhawat and Sharma.