Pilot camp restless over not getting due in govt, closing ranks to press demands

Sachin Pilot in Delhi; leaders close to him claim they are ‘pressured’ by Chief Minister Gehlot to leave his side

Pilot camp restless over not getting due in govt, closing ranks to press demands

Congress leader Sachin Pilot. PTI file

New Delhi, June 12

Tensions simmered within the Congress in Rajasthan on Saturday with the Sachin Pilot camp getting increasingly restless over allegedly not being given their due in the government, and were seen closing ranks for pressing their demands strongly.

An All India Congress Committee (AICC) panel formed to sort out differences between Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and the Pilot camp is yet to come up with a solution.

Congress leader Sachin Pilot is currently in Delhi and plans to stay till Sunday. Pilot's Delhi tour comes in backdrop of his loyalist MLAs making comments on the internal issues of the party, including an MLA sending his resignation to the Assembly Speaker.

AICC in-charge of the state Ajay Maken on Friday had said: “Vacant positions in the Cabinet, Boards and Commissions would be filled soon and we are in talks with all”.

 When asked if senior party leader Pilot is angry, Maken had said: “I am speaking to Pilot ji on a regular basis. Had he been angry, he would not be speaking to me”.

When asked if senior party leader Sachin Pilot is angry, the former Union Minister said, "I am speaking to Pilotji on a regular basis. Had he been angry, he would not be speaking to me."

After senior leader Jitin Prasada switched to the BJP on Wednesday, Pilot raked up the issue of non-resolution of commitments made to him.

"It has now been 10 months. I was given to understand that there would be swift action by the committee, but now half of the term is done, and those issues haven't been resolved. It is unfortunate that so many of the party workers who worked and gave their all for getting us the mandate are not being heard," Pilot said.

On Thursday, six MLAs met Pilot at his residence. All the six were part of the 18 MLAs who had rebelled against Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and had camped in a hotel in Gurugram.

On Thursday, at least five Congress leaders had met Pilot at his Jaipur home.

Former minister Vishvendra Singh held a one-on-one meeting with him. Later, Ved Prakash Solanki, Mukesh Bhakar, Ramniwas Gawria and Rakesh Pareek reached his residence.

They questioned the “delay” in cabinet expansion and political appointments by Gehlot.

Leaders close to Pilot said they are losing patience over the long wait for getting their due and claim they are being “pressured” by Chief Minister Gehlot to leave Pilot’s side.

However, they asserted that they will fight “for their rights” within the party framework.

According to sources within the Pilot camp, the former Rajasthan deputy chief minister is regularly in touch with Maken for ironing out issues and for redressal of grievances.

When reached out for a comment and asked if he would meet senior Congress leaders here, Pilot refused to comment.

Sources close to Pilot said the delay in the redressal of grievances as promised by the party high command was irking the leaders associated with him, and alleged that the chief minister is refusing to give them their due.

The Congress government in Rajasthan was on the verge of collapse after Pilot along with 19 disgruntled MLAs raised a banner of revolt last year.

Hectic consultations with rebel leaders led by Pilot helped the Congress save its government and its state unit from a division.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi had set up a three-member panel of Maken, AICC general secretary organisation K C Venugopal and senior party leader Ahmed Patel to iron out differences within the state leadership.

Pilot on Friday rejected a claim made on a television show by BJP leader Rita Bahuguna Joshi that she had spoken to him about the possibility of joining the BJP.

“Rita Bahuguna Joshi said she spoke to Sachin. She might have spoken to Sachin Tendulkar (the cricketer). She doesn’t have the courage to speak to me,” the Congress leader had told reporters in Jaipur during his party’s protest over fuel prices.

Also, Congress MLA Hemaram Choudhary met Pilot in Jaipur on Friday morning, his first public visit to the state capital after sending in his resignation to Speaker P C Joshi on May 18.

Pilot loyalist PR Meena on Friday called for an expansion of the Gehlot ministry.

“The party high command should take a decision at the earliest because everyone is waiting,” he said.

Meena had asserted that he stood firmly behind Pilot and “would even die” for him.  — PTI



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