JAIPUR: The Congress party seems to be adopting a ‘blow hot and cold’ strategy in tackling rebel leader Sachin Pilot who has created a political crisis in Rajasthan.
While Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot has slammed Pilot and asked the Speaker to initiate his disqualification along with other rebel MLAs, the party high command said it has not shut the door on Pilot who said he has no plans to join the BJP.
A day after sacking Pilot as deputy CM and PCC Chief, the Congress on Wednesday initiated moves to disqualify 19 MLAs of his faction for anti-party activities. In all, 19 rebels were issued notices by the Speaker of the Assembly, CP Joshi, and asked to respond by Friday. The move is likely to give the Congress government an advantage by bringing the majority-mark down in a floor test.
The Speaker has sought written replies from the rebel Congress MLAs by noon on July 17. Information on the notice to these 19 MLAs has been sent by the Assembly through all mediums. In addition, Rajasthan Congress in-charge Avinash Pandey said that if the 19 MLAs, including Pilot, do not respond in two days, it will be presumed that they are giving up their membership from the Congress Legislature Party.
Sachin Pilot has clarified that he is still a Congressman and has no plans of going with the BJP as he had worked hard to defeat the party. He remarked, "I would like to make it clear that I have no plans to join the BJP. Attempts to link me to the BJP are only a bid to malign me in the eyes of the Congress high command."
An aggressive Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, however, is in no mood to accept the Pilot version. Claiming that he has the support of 106 MLAs in the 200-member assembly which is enough to retain power, Gehlot hit out at Pilot and his group. Gehlot said that the Pilot camp was hand-in-glove with the BJP’s attempts at horse-trading in the recent Rajya Sabha elections. "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," Gehlot said.
Meanwhile, the Congress central leadership made a fresh attempt to reach out to Pilot with conditions. At a press conference, Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said that now that Sachin has said that he is not joining the BJP, he and his group of MLAs should immediately shun the hospitality of the BJP in Haryana and return to the party fold instead of camping 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 government in Haryana, stop all conversations with them (BJP) and come back to your home in Jaipur,” Surjewala said.
In another significant development, new PCC Chief Govind Singh Dotasara assumed his duties on Wednesday. The Congress has dissolved all working committees, departments, and cells of the PCC with immediate effect to pave the way for their reconstitution under the new PCC chief.
There is also a talk that CM Gehlot will soon reshuffle and expand his ministry which might have two new Deputy CMs and 7 new ministers and 10 to 15 Parliamentary Secretaries.