POLITICS
13/07/2020 1:46 PM IST | Updated 13/07/2020 7:42 PM IST

Sachin Pilot Rebels: Amid Gehlot's Show Of Strength In Rajasthan, Congress Keeps 'Doors Open'

As politicians speculated Pilot would join BJP, senior Congress leaders indicated that his potential exit from the party would be a big loss.

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Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and Deputy CM Sachin Pilot during this year's Republic Day parade in Jaipur.

Rajasthan deputy chief minister Sachin Pilot has reportedly claimed the support of 25 MLAS who are with him in Delhi, even as Congress on Monday said the party’s doors were open for him and the MLAs should come and discuss issues on party forums.

A Congress legislative party meeting is underway at Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot’s resident where party leaders and at least 100 MLAs are gathered, the Indian Express reported.

Pilot had on Sunday declared open rebellion, claiming that the Ashok Gehlot-led Rajasthan government was in minority as over 30 Congress MLAs had pledged support to him.

In the present 200-member assembly, the Congress has 107 members and the BJP 72.

Pilot had been incommunicado for about two days before his announcement, Press Trust of India reported.

At 2.30 am on Monday, Rajasthan Congress in-charge Avinash Pande said, “A total of 109 MLAs have signed a letter expressing their trust and support to the government led by Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and leadership of Sonia Gandhi-ji and Rahul Gandhi-ji.”

While politicians speculated Pilot would join the BJP as former colleague Jyotiraditya Scindia had in March, senior Congress leader indicated that his potential exit from the party would be a big loss.

However, Hindustan Times reported Pilot’s aide as denying his move to the saffron party.

Pilot had in a statement on Sunday said he would not to attend Congress Legislature Party on Monday.

Rajasthan ministers and Congress MLAs had gathered at Gehlot’s official residence in Jaipur on Sunday for a meeting to express support to the chief minister, amid the power tussle between the two leaders.

Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said the party remained intact and the government would complete its five-year term.

The Congress is trying to avert the loss of another state after Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh.

Party leaders were a huddle at the CM’s residence till late at night after Pilot’s announcement.

Gehlot and other leaders are said to be in touch with allies and independent MLAs supporting the government, hoping to ensure at Monday’s meeting that the Congress government had the numbers to retain power.

Pilot’s supporters had said he was camping in Delhi and was upset over a notice sent to him by the Rajasthan police, who claimed to have stumbled on a plot to topple the Congress government.

The notice from the Special Operations Group had (SOG) sought time from him to record a statement.

The same notice was also sent to Gehlot, Government Chief Whip Mahesh Joshi and some other MLAs, but those close to Pilot insisted that it was meant to humiliate him.

Sunday’s meeting at the CM’s official residence in the state capital was scheduled to take place at 9 pm. Minutes later, Pilot’s statement surfaced. Independent MLAs supporting the Gehlot government had also been invited in what was planned to be a show of strength for Gehlot.

Gehlot had alleged Saturday that the opposition BJP was trying to lure Congress MLAs to topple the state government.

The BJP dismissed the claim, saying the recent developments only reflected a power struggle between Gehlot and Pilot, simmering since the Congress leadership in Delhi picked the more senior politician for the CM’s post.

(With PTI inputs)