As Sachin insists he is still Cong man, high command orders Gehlot not to criticise Pilot, much to CM’s chagrin
After rebel leader Sachin Pilot asserted he was still a Congressman and had no intention to join the BJP, the Congress top leadership has stepped in to bring him back to the “family” even as Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot seemed totally opposed to his “homecoming”.
In his separate media interaction, Pilot laid emphasis on attempt to malign him before the Gandhis by alleging that he hobnobbed with the BJP. If his emphasis on “Gandhis” was his way to reach out to them, then it didn’t go unanswered. For the first time during the entire crisis, Sonia Gandhi reportedly asked Ashok Gehlot not to criticise the former Deputy CM and make way for his return.
Sources said soon after Gehlot slammed Pilot before the media, he received a call from the party chief who advised him to take steps to defuse the situation and not do anything to belittle Pilot.
This followed a press conference by Congress chief spokesman Randeep Surjewala in Jaipur who appealed to Pilot to return “home” (Congress) and give up the BJP’s hospitality at Manesar under the Haryana Government.
Later, Gehlot, who had been foul-mouthing Sachin Pilot also came with a tweet that he “loved” the new generation of leaders and tomorrow belongs to them. This was an apparent reference to his former Deputy CM.
Sources said that Rahul Gandhi, who has not been involved in Gehlot-Pilot faceoff all these days, directed senior Congress leaders to get in touch with Pilot and pave the way for ensure his return.
But buoyed by the fact that several Pilot supporter MLAs were sending feelers to come back to Jaipur, Gehlot unleashed a scathing attack on Pilot in the afternoon, accusing Pilot of indulging in horse trading to topple the Congress Government in Rajasthan. Taking a jibe at Pilot Gehlot said that only English fluency and being handsome is not everything.
Claiming that the Pilot camp was also hand-in-glove with the BJP’s attempts at horse-trading in the recent Rajya Sabha elections, Gehlot said, “Horse trading was being done in Jaipur, we have the proof. We had to keep people at a hotel for 10 days, if we had not done that, the same thing that is happening in Manesar now would have happened back then.”
In the morning, reflecting Gehlot’s hard stand, Rajasthan Speaker issued notices to Pilot and 18 other rebel Congress MLAs after the party sought their disqualification from the State Assembly.
Sacked Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot and the other MLAs were asked to respond to the notices by Friday. The notices were issued on Tuesday.
The MLAs had defied a whip and did not attend its legislature party meetings held on Monday and Tuesday.
“Notices have been issued to 19 rebel MLAs, including Sachin Pilot, yesterday,” Speaker CP Joshi said.
Sources said the notices were sent after the chief whip of the Congress in Rajasthan Assembly, Mahesh Joshi, wrote to the Speaker, seeking proceedings against the rebel MLAs in accordance with the 10th Schedule of the Constitution.
The Congress also cited past Supreme Court rulings to seek their disqualification. Notices have been sent to all rebels through e-mail and WhatsApp. Physical copies have also been delivered to the official Jaipur addresses and constituency addresses of the rebel MLAs.
Among those sent notices are Vishvendra Singh and Ramesh Meena, who were sacked along with Pilot from the State Cabinet after their rebellion against Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot.
Earlier, in separate statements to media channels Sachin said that there was no truth in the rumours of him joining the BJP. He said that he had worked very hard to defeat the saffron party in the Assembly elections that saw Congress return to power. He said that he is yet to take a decision on his future course of action.
Pilot also told a news agency that Ashok Gehlot and his loyalists ganged up on him after Rahul Gandhi stepped down as party president.
Sources said Rahul Gandhi has conveyed a message to Pilot that he is a member of the party and doors of the party are always open for him. Rahul’s intervention comes a day after Rajasthan Congress Legislature Party passed a resolution for the sacking of Sachin Pilot from the posts of the State party president and Deputy Chief Minister for allegedly attempting to topple the Ashok Gehlot Government.
Differences between Gehlot and Pilot augmented after the then Deputy CM was served with a notice last week over his alleged bid to bring down the Government which Pilot claimed that it was only meant to humiliate him.
One of the key issues raised by the Pilot camp was that neither Sonia Gandhi nor Rahul Gandhi had reached out to Pilot to sort out the issue even as Surjewala claimed that the Congress top brass was ready to hear him out.
After silencing Gehlot, the grand old party appeared to make attempts to get Pilot back on board and said that if he has any grievances he should come back to Jaipur and resolve the crisis.
Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said that now Sachin has said that he is not joining the BJP and if this was indeed the case, he should first shun the hospitality of the BJP Government in Haryana.
Sachin and his loyalist MLAs have camped at a hotel in Manesar.
“We have seen Sachin Pilot’s statement that he won’t join the BJP. I would like to tell him that if you don’t want that, then immediately come out of the security cover of ML Khattar’s Haryana Government, stop all conversations with them (BJP) and come back to your home in Jaipur,” Surjewala said.
Surjewala’s fresh attempt came just a day after he announced the sacking of Sachin Pilot from the posts of Deputy CM and president of Rajasthan Congress.
The Congress has been making efforts to somehow bring Sachin Pilot back in its fold and claimed that several senior leaders have reached out to the Tonk MLA.
Thursday, 16 July 2020 | PNS | New Delhi
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