Pilot grounded, Gehlot claims majority

Cong rebel, 16 MLAs skip second CLP meeting | Sacked as Deputy CM, Rajasthan unit chief

Aditi Tandon

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 14

Held hostage, claims tribal MLA

  • Video clips of Rajasthan’s Bharatiya Tribal Party (BTP) MLA Rajkumar Roat surfaced on the social media in which he purportedly claims to have been kept like a ‘hostage’ in his car. In one of the clips, a cop is seen taking away the car keys.

The crisis in Rajasthan Congress precipitated further today with the party sacking rebel Sachin Pilot as Deputy Chief Minister and state unit president, accusing him of “colluding with the BJP” to dislodge the Ashok Gehlot government in the state.

Read also: Pilot crash-lands

The decision followed several failed attempts by the Congress to placate the 42-year-old who is all set to exit the party, four months after his colleague Jyotiraditya Scindia left for the BJP.

The absence of Pilot and his 16 supporter MLAs from a second meeting of the Congress Legislature Party (CLP) held in Jaipur today proved the final straw for the Congress, which stripped the Deputy CM of his charge, terming his intransigence and rebellion “unacceptable”.

Truth can be rattled , but not defeated. — Sachin Pilot, former Deputy CM, Rajasthan

“The political heft Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi gave to Pilot starting from his young age of 26 years when he became an MP until today is unparalleled in Indian politics. He was made an MP in 2003, a minister at 32 and state unit president at 34. At 40 years, the Congress made him Deputy CM of Rajasthan.

Sachin Pilot is not just a colleague but my friend. No one can take away the fact that all these years he has worked with dedication for the party. — Jitin Prasada, Cong leader

“But we regret to say Pilot and some of his supporter ministers have fallen into BJP’s trap and are conspiring to dislodge a duly elected Congress government in the state. This is unacceptable. This cannot be condoned,” Congress leader Randeep Surjewala said before announcing the decision to sack Pilot and ministers Vishwendra Singh and Ramesh Meena and appoint Rajasthan education minister Govind Dotasra as the new state chief.

Pilot, for his part, posted a cryptic tweet after being sacked. “Truth can be rattled but not defeated,” said the Congress leader who is all set to face disqualification proceedings. He later tweeted: “My heartfelt thanks and gratitude to all those who have come out in my support today.”

The Pilot camp appeared unfazed on the surface, still claiming the support of 30 MLAs and some independents in the Assembly, where 101 is the simple majority mark. Gehlot later met Governor Kalraj Mishra to recommend the sacking of the three ministers and inform him about a potential Cabinet expansion.

The CM claimed he had 104 MLAs even though the CPM and Bharatiya Tribal Party, Congress allies, said they would remain neutral till Gehlot sorted Congress’ factionalism.

With Pilot yet to make his move, the Congress government appeared on the edge with independents and allies already distancing themselves. All eyes are now on Pilot who is expected to open his cards soon with sources maintaining he might float a party and get BJP’s backing or might well join the saffron fold.

Gehlot should take floor test: Oppn

Opposition BJP demanded that CM Ashok Gehlot take a floor test to prove his government’s majority in the Assembly. Deputy Leader of Opposition Rajendra Rathore claimed the government would not be able to prove its majority in a floor test.

BJP woos Sachin, says doors open

BJP leaders said party’s ‘doors are open’ for anybody who expresses trust in its ideology. Pilot’s ‘erstwhile’ colleague Rita Bahuguna Joshi berated the Congress and advised him to ‘immediately join the BJP’.

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