Sachin Pilot whose rebellion threatens the Ashok Gehlot government, the Congress has called for another meeting of its MLAs, who have been holed up at a resort near Jaipur, at 10 am. The first meeting was skipped by Sachin Pilot and his loyalist MLAs. The second legislative meeting comes as one of the several attempts by the Congress leaders to save the government from collapsing, just months after it lost Madhya Pradesh in similar developments.
The attempts have, so far, fell flat as Sachin Pilot remains defiant, claming the Ashok Gehlot government is in minority. Ashok Gehlot, however, claims to have the support of 102 MLAs, a comfortable majority in a 200-member Assembly. Stay tuned for LIVE updates as the Rajasthan government crisis enters day 4. The Congress’s split approach was reflected in the drama at the party’s headquarters in Jaipur, where posters of Sachin Pilot were taken down in the morning and later put up again. “Doors are open for Sachin Pilot and other MLAs. They will be heard and solutions found. This is the discipline of the party,” Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said, inviting him to Tuesday’s meeting.
Sachin Pilot is camping at a luxury hotel near Delhi with a few MLAs. He insisted that Mr Gehlot had lost his majority and his claim of 106 MLAs was greatly exaggerated. In the 200-member Rajasthan assembly, 101 is the majority mark.
Mr Pilot said he has 30 MLAs but Congress sources claimed he had no more than 16. Late on Monday, Team Pilot released a video of around 15 MLAs who support him. The party fears its crisis will worsen if the BJP actively tries to pull down its government with help from the sulking Rajasthan Congress chief, following the Madhya Pradesh playbook.
Congress sources said Mr Pilot “is still negotiating with the BJP” but the rebel leader denied he was joining the BJP like his former colleague Jyotiraditya Scindia. In March, Jyotiraditya Scindia, a close aide of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, stunned the party in Madhya Pradesh by defecting to the BJP along with 22 MLAs, ending its wafer-thin majority. With Mr Scindia’s help, the BJP returned to power. It was around that time when Mr Pilot, who was forced to give up his claim to Chief Ministership of Rajasthan, was also believed to have opened talks with the BJP.
In nearly two years in power, the Congress’s top two in Rajasthan never stopped feuding. The tipping point for Mr Pilot came after he was asked to answer questions in an investigation into an alleged attempt to destabilise the state government ahead of last month’s Rajya Sabha elections.
Chief Minister Gehlot sought to downplay the summons by the Special Operations Group, saying he, too, had received it. That did not wash with a furious Sachin Pilot, whose aides pointed out that as state home minister in charge of the Special Operations Group, Mr Gehlot had practically given himself the summons.