The political crisis in Rajasthan showed no sign of abating with CM Ashok Gehlot holding a show of strength by convening a meeting of party legislators and latter placing them in a resort and the camp of his rebellious deputy Sachin Pilot challenging the CM’s claim numbers while rejecting report that compromise was being worked out as “being too late.”
In response to an appeal of a central congress leader sent to Jaipur to persuade Pilot to call of his rebellion the later made it clear that the overtures were insufficient and measures such as a rejig of portfolios and assurance of his tenure as state chief were not enough.
Political commentators are of the view that Rajasthan political crisis hinged on three key demands by the pilot camp:
- The first was that Pilot would be made chief minister in 2022, a year before the elections. “He wanted a public commitment right away that in the last year, he would be the Chief Minister. He wanted us to announce it to all,’’ added the leader, who is involved in the party’s decisions at the highest level.
- The second demand was that all of Pilot’s supporters would be given some position in the government — not necessarily as ministers, but “rewarded” in some way, this person said — “made heads of corporations or any other bodies.’’
- The third and final demand was that Avinash Pandey, the general secretary in-charge of Rajasthan should be removed from his post. Pilot believes that Pandey is biased towards chief minister Ashok Gehlot and that the situation could return to normal only if another person was brought in his place.
According to a senior Congress leader Sachin Pilot placed above three conditions before the party leadership for truce that simply couldn’t be met.
Insiders say that efforts of Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi who spoke to pilot and sought to persuade him to return to Jaipur, were met with a similar response. However, a close associate of Pilot refuted the claim. “There has been no conversation between Pilot and the Congress high command.”
Despite claiming majority, the Ashok Gehlot led the Congress government is Rajasthan is walking on a tight rope with only 102 legislators, including 14 independents and legislators from small parties, attending the meeting at Gehlot’s official residence on Monday, 13th instant.
However, many of the MLAs present in the meeting have the reputation of jumping ship. So one should not be sure of the number until the last the last word on the crisis is over. “It is not over, till it is over,” said Prakash Bhandari, political commentator.
Ladnun MLA Mukesh Bhakar, who is also the Rajasthan Youth Congress president and a close associate of Pilot maintained that over 30 legislators are supporting the deputy chief minister.
Moreover, another CLP meeting has been called on Tuesday July 14, to give Pilot, who is also the Rajasthan Congress president, and his supporters another chance to explain their position and put forth their grievances so that those could be addressed.
A Congress leader close to Pilot said the issues raised by him remain and unless those are addressed Rajasthan deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot will not attend the Congress Legislature Party (CLP) meeting in Jaipur on Tuesday. Subsequently, Pilot skipped the second CLP meeting too.
Sources said former president Rahul Gandhi, AICC general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, and party veterans Ahmed Patel, P Chidambaram and K C Venugopal got in touch with Pilot who skipped a meeting of the Congress Legislature Party in Jaipur and remained closeted with a little over a dozen MLAs close to him at a five-star hotel in Manesar.
The Congress Legislative Party (CLP) meeting began at the Fairmont Hotel in Jaipur. But, as expected, Sachin Pilot has skipped the second meeting too, today of Rajasthan MLAs even after Congress extended an invitation to him.
Amid the infighting between Rajasthan chief minister and his deputy, Pilot-led Rajasthan Congress camp on Monday night released a video showing at least 16 MLAs sitting together. Though Pilot himself cannot be seen in the video, the 10-second video shows the MLAs sitting together in a close circle in an apparent show of strength. Some of the MLAs seen in the video are Indraraj Gurjar, Mukesh Bhakar, and Harish Meena. Tourism Minister Vishvendra Singh tweeted the video with the caption. “Family”.
Another Congress MLA Mukesh Bhakar tweeted, “…Loyalty in Congress means Ashok Gehlot’s slavery. That is not acceptable to us.”
Sachin Pilot categorically stated that there was no question of him joining the BJP. “I want to clarify that we will not join the BJP and don’t want to leave the Congress. Even if helplessness arises, we will not join the BJP,” he said.
Not clamouring for posts, seeking respect and dignity: Statement from Pilot camp
On July14, 2020, in their first statement, Sachin Pilot camp said they are “taking a stand to protect our dignity and self-respect at a time when our leader is threatened with notices from the SOG under the charges of sedition and criminal conspiracy.”
“Public humiliation of our leader Mr. Pilot is something that is totally unacceptable to us, and those responsible for meeting out this treatment need to be made accountable. We are seeking to restore our self-respect and are not clamouring for any posts and positions contrary to false reports in the media. We have been senior members of the party for many years and have held many positions within the party and government and are not lured by inducements.”
The statement was signed by Cabinet ministers Vishvendra Singh, Ramesh Meena and Former Speaker Deepender Shekhawat.
“I have never said or done anything in my life against the Congress party,’’ a second supporter quoted Sachin Pilot as having said soon after the decision. “All I wanted was that the public humiliation that Ashok Gehlot put me through should also be publicly acknowledged and set right.’’
I’m not joining BJP, those saying so are trying to lower me in Gandhi’s eyes, says Sachin Pilot. He also denied colluding with the BJP to conspire against the Congress.
Truth can be harassed but cannot be defeated, said Sachin Pilot after Congress took disciplinary action against Pilot.
सत्य को परेशान किया जा सकता है पराजित नहीं।
What other leaders are saying:
Shiv Sena has accused the BJP of trying to demolish the Congress government in Rajasthan. Sena, in its mouthpiece Saamna said, “On one hand when the country is facing a coronavirus crisis, the BJP is creating a different fuss. During this period the BJP has demolished the Kamal Nath government in Madhya Pradesh, and now it is looking to demolish the Ashok Gehlot’s government in Rajasthan. However, it is not possible.”
Congress MP Karti P Chidambaram on Monday put out a cryptic tweet saying that the reason why Google was such a successful company was because they let their talent become ‘entrepreneurial within the organisation.’ The Congress MP added that were ‘lessons to be learnt here.’ His tweet can be seen as his subtle but direct acknowledgement of the power struggle between the young and old brigade of the Congress in Rajasthan, a repetition of a scenario that happened in Congress-led Madhya Pradesh four months ago that led to the collapse of the Kamal Nath Government.
Congress leader Sanjay Nirupam on Monday urged that the party leaders should convince Sachin Pilot to stay. Nirupam also raised concerns over leaders leaving the grand old party.
Sanjay Jha, who is often seen on TV debates defending the Congress and launching scathing attacks on the BJP leaders, looked critical of his party leadership.
Responding to the open fight between Rajasthan Chief Minister, Ashok Gehlot and Deputy CM, Sachin Pilot, Congress Leader, Sanjay Jha said that Pilot should have been given the CM post in 2018
Jha tweeted in favour of Sachin Pilot and said, “For five years Sachin Pilot gave his blood, tears, toil and sweat for the Congress party between 2013-18. The Congress came back from a wretched 21 seats to 100. We just gave him a performance bonus. We are so meritocratic. We are so transparent.”
However, Sanjay Jha was rewarded for his tweet by suspension from the party membership of the state unit by Maharashtra Congress chief Balasaheb Thorat on Tuesday.
There is a school of thought within the Congress which believes that both Scindia and Pilot were denied chief ministerial job out of “insecurity”. They say that there is a fear that a Scindia or a Pilot — the second generation Congressman — might outshine Rahul Gandhi with their performances.
Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi on Monday said that Rajasthan Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot should come forward to hold talks with the top leadership about his grievances and assured that all problems will be addressed.
“I consider Sachin Pilot as one of the most talented, competent and impressive Congressmen we have. He is a friend also. We all value him in the party. He should come and air his grievances, the floor is open. All people are prepared to listen to him,” Mr Singhvi told news agency ANI through videoconferencing.
“He may have genuine grievances but where I draw a red flag is that if you try to topple a government or hurt your own Congress party. I think everything except that red flag is accepted in the party. It’s a capacious party. I urge, request, beg him to exercise that right,” Mr Singhvi added.
Shashi Tharoor tweeted,
“I am sad to see @SachinPilot leave @INCIndia.
“I consider him one of our best & brightest, and wish it had not come to this. Instead of parting, he should have joined the effort to make the Party a better & more effective instrument for his, and our, dreams.” With Agencies
After Sachin Pilot did not budge the Congress finally removed Pilot as Rajasthan Congress chief on Tuesday. He was also dropped by chief minister Ashok Gehlot from the cabinet after a meeting of the Congress’ legislature party (CLP).
Also food and civil supplies minister Ramesh Meena and tourism minister Vishvendra Singh were removed from the cabinet.
The party also sacked Mukesh Bhakar as presidents of the party’s frontal organisations–Youth Congress and
Rakesh Pareek from congress Sewa Dal.
Congress general secretary in charge of Rajasthan, Avinash Pande, said the party had initiated the process of issuing notices to the MLAs who did not attend the Congress Legislature Party meeting by submitting a petition before assembly speaker CP Joshi.
A day after sacking Sachin Pilot as Rajasthan deputy chief minister and party state chief, the Congress has issued a notice to him and 18 other party members for not attending the Congress Legislative Party (CLP) meetings. State party in charge Avinash Pandey said that Pilot and the party members have two days to respond after which the party would consider withdrawing their membership from the CLP.
Sachin Pilot cancelled a press conference scheduled for today, July 15, where he was to deliberate his future course of action and we have to wait and see the next part of the Picture.