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Doors open for Pilot, says Surjewala as Congress meets party MLAs amid I-T raids in Rajasthan

The Congress said 109 MLAs have already expressed support for Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, rejecting the claim by Deputy Chief Minister and the party's state unit president Sachin Pilot.

Published: 13th July 2020 11:17 AM  |   Last Updated: 13th July 2020 02:39 PM   |  A+A-

Congress MLAs arrive at the residence of Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot to attend a meeting in Jaipur Monday July 13 2020. (Photo | PTI)

By Online Desk

The Congress on Monday said its doors remain open for Sachin Pilot, the rebel leader who claimed that he has the support of over 30 party MLAs in the state's 200-member assembly.

"Doors are open for Sachin Pilot and other MLAs," senior leader Randeep Surjewala told reporters here ahead of a crucial meeting of party MLAs.

The Congress Legislature Party meeting began about three hours later than scheduled, with ministers and MLAs flashed victory signs for the cameras.

The Congress said 109 MLAs have already expressed support for Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, rejecting the claim by Deputy Chief Minister and the party's state unit president Sachin Pilot that the senior leader does not have the majority.

About 100 MLAs had walked into the chief minister's residence by 12.30 pm, an hour before the meeting actually started.

But some MLAs considered close to Pilot had not arrived till then.

These included G R Khatana, Harish Meena, Ramesh Meena, Vishvendra Singh, Ved Prakash, Mukesh Bhakar and Ramnivas Gawriya Striking a conciliatory note at a press conference, Surjewala said the MLAs who have not yet turned up in Jaipur can call Avinash Pande, the AICC general secretary in-charge of Rajasthan.

He said the party's top leadership spoke to Pilot several times in the last 72 hours.

Surjewala said differences in a family can be resolved within the family, suggesting that Pilot and other MLAs should come and discuss grievances at party forums.

"When a member of the family gets annoyed, he does not make the family fall but sits with family members and resolves the issue," he said.

"Doors are open for Sachin Pilot and other MLAs. They will be heard and solutions will be found."

ALSO READ | Pilot vs Gehlot: Rajasthan Congress leaders question timing of I-T raids

The Congress had rushed Pande, Surjewala and Ajay Maken to Jaipur as observers at the meeting, amid a power tussle between its two Rajasthan leaders.

"This is the discipline of the party," the AICC spokesperson said.

The Congress had rushed Pande, Surjewala and Ajay Maken to Jaipur as observers at the meeting, amid a power tussle between its two Rajasthan leaders.

Pilot, who is also the president of the state unit of the party, on Tuesday night claimed he has the support of 30 MLAs and the Gehlot government is now in minority.

Surjewala said the Congress government in the state is stable and in majority.

Surjewala targeted Prime minister Narendra Modi, Union Home minister Amit Shah for the Income Tax raids on the premises of some people linked to the Congress in Rajasthan.

He said the Income Tax department, Enforcement Directorate and Central Bureau of Investigation are the BJP's "frontal departments", but such raids will not topple the government.

The claim has been rejected by the Congress.

The party says 109 MLAs have already expressed support for Gehlot.

Meanwhile, a meeting comprising of all Congress MLAs pledging their support to the state government, took place in Jaipur.

Over 80 MLAs reached Gehlot's residence, the venue of the meeting.

State party in-charge Pandey had earlier claimed that 109 MLAs have so far signed letters of support for Ashok Gehlot to continue as the Chief Minister of Rajasthan.

Meanwhile, Pilot had it made it clear yesterday that he will not attend the meeting and in statement issued on Sunday he had claimed that the Ashok Gehlot government was in minority as more than 30 Congress and some independent legislators have pledged support to him.

Reacting to the development, senior BJP leader and National Vice President Om Mathur said that Congress is facing difficulties to retain their position of power in Rajasthan due to internal infighting and is instead blaming the opposition for it.  

He also added that should there be any trouble in the power balance there, BJP is all set to form the new government.

Meanwhile, IT raids have reportedly been coducted at the houses of a dozen minor Congress leaders and supporters of the party in Rajasthan.

Most prominent names include, Rajiv Arora who is also a jeweller and close friend of CM Ashok Gehlot and Dharmendra Rathore who is a businessman in Jodhpur.

Officials said the raids have been launched early morning in Delhi, Jaipur, Mumbai and Kota.

At least 80 tax sleuths apart from police officials are part of the action, they said.

They said the department initiated action on the basis of inputs of huge cash transactions taking place and the business group's alleged links to these transactions.

ALSO READ | Sachin Pilot is a 'sincere Congressman', won't quit the party: DK Shivakumar

Another entity in Rajasthan is also being searched, they said.

Official sources did not comment on reports claiming that the searches were linked to the current political crisis in the state.

In the 200-member Rajasthan Assembly, the Congress has 107 MLAs and the BJP 72.

The Congress has the support of 10 out of 13 independents, and other party MLAs like Rashtriya Lok Dal (1), which is its ally.

The Congress also considers Bhartiya Tribal Party (2) and CPI(M) (2) MLAs as their supporters.

BJP ally Rashtriya Loktantrik Party (RLP) has three MLAs in the assembly.

(With ENS, PTI inputs)

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