Rajasthan crisis: 'Rebel' Sachin Pilot skips second Congress meeting
Sending a clear message to Congress that he isn't impressed with whatever he is being offered, Rajasthan Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot skipped another meeting on Tuesday. He also remained absent from Monday's meeting, called to show CM Ashok Gehlot's "strength." Since Pilot's revolt threatened the Congress government, Gehlot's loyalists were taken to a resort in Jaipur. Here are all the updates.
Context: Pilot and Gehlot were never tight, summons worsened ties
Pilot, who is also the chief of Congress in Rajasthan, has been fuming since he was summoned for interrogation into an alleged plot to bring down Gehlot's government. The 42-year-old, who never shared good ties with Gehlot, went to Delhi and claimed the CM has lost the majority. Yesterday, Congress convened a meeting and announced over 100 MLAs support Gehlot.
Congress showed strength, reached out to "rebel" as well
Yesterday, while Gehlot "showed his support," Congress reached out to Pilot as well, saying the party is one big family and they should work together for Rajasthan's welfare. Reportedly, former Congress President Rahul Gandhi, sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, and senior leaders like Ahmed Patel, P Chidambaram, and KC Venugopal, reached out to Pilot. However, the young leader chose to remain cold to party's overtures.
Yesterday, Pilot's team released a video showing his "strength"
Pilot's behavior towards Congress doesn't come as a surprise, considering how his aides have been rejecting Gehlot's claims. Late last evening, the team also released a clip hinting that at least 15 MLAs were with the young leader. Meanwhile, Bhartiya Tribal Party (BTP), which has two MLAs in the Assembly, withdrew support from Congress, asking its leaders to remain "neutral" in this power-tussle.
If government is strong, why were MLAs moved: Pilot's aide
An aide of Pilot, Hema Ram Choudhary, also dismissed Gehlot's claims that the government is stable asking why were MLAs taken to a hotel if there is no "threat." "We are with Sachin Pilot. 30 people are supporting us," Choudhary told NDTV while demanding a change in leadership. To note, in the 200-member strong Assembly, 101 is the majority mark.
Congress leader wants party to take tough decisions
"The 2013 polls were contested under the leadership of Ashok Gehlot; the Congress then got just 21 seats, the first time in the history of Rajasthan...if we continue with the present leadership, we will get no more than 11 seats in the next election, (sic)" Choudhary said.
Is Cabinet reshuffle on Congress' mind to please Pilot?
Hoping to retain Pilot in its fold, Congress is reportedly mulling a Cabinet reshuffle, which could end in his aides getting major portfolios. Currently, Pilot handles Public Works, Rural Development; Panchayati Raj and Science and Technology; and Statistics ministries. Interestingly, there are murmurs in Congress that Pilot is in touch with BJP. But his team denied the news about a probable switch.
Jump to BJP not on cards currently, hinted Pilot's team
When asked if Pilot would follow his former colleague Jyotiraditya Scindia's footsteps by joining BJP, Ved Prakash Solanki, a leader close to him, told Indian Express there are no plans for now. "Wherever he requires us, we will go. Our demand is that Sachin ji be made the Chief Minister for we won because of him...the youth voted because of him," he continued.