Rajasthan crisis: Ashok Gehlot claims majority, Sachin Pilot defiant

Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot, other Congress leaders and MLAs take a bus to a hotel after a meeting at the CM’s residence in Jaipur on Monday. photo: PTI
The Congress in Rajasthan staged a show of strength with several MLAs expressing support to Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot at the legislature party meeting. However, the MLAs were later packed off to a resort near Jaipur, signalling the rebellion sparked by deputy CM Sachin Pilot is still a threat to the party.

Sources said top party leaders, including Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, were trying to reach out to Pilot to assure that his grievances will be addressed. A report in NDTV said Pilot was still in talks with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Another media report quoted sources close to Pilot to say the rebel camp dismissed Gehlot’s claims. “If they have numbers then why not do a head count, take them to governor instead of moving them to hotel,” the report quoted a source as saying.

Later in the day, Bharatiya Tribal Party, which has two MLAs in the state Assembly, pulled its support from the government, said a media report.

MLAs were taken to a resort after a  Congress Legislature Party (CLP) meeting, which adopted a resolution urging “strong disciplinary action” against any party office-bearer or CLP member who does anything to weaken the government or the party.

But the resolution stopped short of naming Pilot, who also heads the state unit of the party. The CLP resolution blamed the BJP for the crisis.

Before the meeting, senior Congress leader Randeep Surjewala also adopted a conciliatory tone, saying Pilot and other MLAs could still attend the CLP meeting from which they had distanced themselves.

“Doors are open for Sachin Pilot and other MLAs. They will be heard and solutions will be found. This is the discipline of the party,” Surjewala, who is the AICC spokesperson, said.

Apart from Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi, other like Ahmed Patel, former Union finance minister P Chidambaram and AICC general secretary K C Venugopal are also learned to have spoken with Pilot.

Pilot has been upset since he was denied the Rajasthan CM's post after the December 2018 assembly elections.

There was no official word on the number of MLAs who attended the meeting at Gehlot’s home, but party leaders claimed 106 legislators were there.  

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