CLP backs CM, but crisis not over, another meeting today morning to win over 16-17 MLAs loyal to Pilot; Priyanka likely to mediate
The round one of the Rajasthan political crisis went to Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot on Monday after he mobilised nearly 106-7 MLAs, including those from Independents, but the threat to his Government remained real with no sign of any climb down by Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot.
The party has called another round of meeting of legislators on Tuesday in its last effort, hoping that some of the supporters of Pilot would this time attend the CLP meeting. As of now, all the Gehlot supporters MLAs are residing at a resort at the outskirts of Jaipur where they were taken soon after the CLP meeting.
Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi is likely to reach Jaipur to solve the dispute between Gehlot and Pilot.
Pilot has been camping in Delhi with 16-17 MLAs and is reported to be also in touch with BJP leaders, though the saffron party has denied such speculation. Congress leaders have claimed that party chief Sonia Gandhi, senior leader Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi, Ahmed Patel, and P Chidambaram have spoken to Pilot several times over the last 48 hours, but so far he has not given any indication of a thaw.
Congress chief spokesperson and AICC nominee Randeep Surjewala said 109 MLAs of the Congress led Government in Rajasthan under Gehlot have given their letter of support.
However, sources said smaller parties and a couple of Independents who have supported the Gehlot Government so far may abstain in case there is a floor test.
Surjewala in a late night media briefing at Jaipur said MLAs gave their support letter and thus they have failed BJP’s attempts to topple the Congress Government.
He said another Congress Legislative Party (CLP) meet will be at 10 am on Tuesday to discuss the political situation and that party had again requested Pilot and all MLAs with him camping in Delhi to attend the meeting at Jaipur.
“They (MLAs) are requested to come and discuss how to strengthen Rajasthan and serve the eight crore people together. If there are some differences with someone, then they should say that with an open mind. Sonia and Rahul are ready to listen to everyone and find solution,” Surjewala said.
Rajya Sabha member and a close aide of Rahul, Rajeev Satav, has also been deputed to initiate talks between the two factions even as Ajay Maken and Surjewala are already making attempts.
On Monday, the CLP passed a resolution supporting the Gehlot-led Government in the State after in a major show of strength of 102 MLAs.
Congress sources claimed that the group supporting Pilot wanted key portfolios like Home and Finance for its nominees and wanted the party to retain Pilot as Rajasthan Congress chief.
Sources also claimed that also on the table were demands to make four MLAs, supporting Pilot, Ministers in the Gehlot Cabinet as well as have a say in deciding 50 per cent of the candidates in the upcoming Panchayat polls in the State. Pilot, so far, has not issued any public statement in this political imbroglio.
Sources have said at least 12 MLAs loyal to Pilot are camping with him in Delhi, the Congress leader claims to have the support of 30 legislators while he was simultaneously in touch with BJP which Pilot himself has denied.
“The doors of the Congress were, are, and will be open for Pilot to come and hold discussions,” Surjewala said same time cautioning that personal ambitions of leaders will not be allowed to destroy the party.
A Pilot aide said the CM’s back garden is not the place to prove majority and it is done in the Assembly. “If they have numbers as claimed, why not do a head count and take them to the Governor instead of moving them to hotel,” he said on the claims of Gehlot and the Congress.
The resolution passed at the CLP meet said, “This ripping off of democracy by BJP is insult to eight crore people of Rajasthan, they’ll not accept it. CLP meet expresses its confidence in Congress president Sonia and leader Rahul, and unanimously supports the Government led by Gehlot.” Soon after the CLP the Gehlot camp legislators were put in a resort near Jaipur.
Pilot has been upset since he was denied the Rajasthan Chief Minister’s post after the December 2018 Assembly elections. Pilot has claimed that the Gehlot Government is in minority and that he has the support of over 30 MLAs in the 200-member Assembly.
According to sources, top Congress leaders who spoke to Pilot have asked him not to rebel against the Chief Minister and assured him that his grievances would be redressed at the party level.
Pilot has raised a banner of revolt against Gehlot, after the special operations group (SOG) of Rajasthan Police sent a notice to him for appearing before it in the case involving “horse-trading” of MLAs in the State. The SOG has registered an FIR in this regard and has also sent notices to the Chief Minister, chief whip of Congress and some Ministers and MLAs.
The State Government politics were early in the day spiced up with war of words between the BJP and Congress and also raids by the IT department on the residences and properties of two of Gehlot’s close confidants, with the Congress calling it a “witch-hunt.
Tuesday, 14 July 2020 | Deepak Kumar Jha | New Delhi/Jaipur
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