“I am not joining the BJP,” Congress leader Sachin Pilot said on Wednesday, asserting that the speculation about his switching sides was being fuelled by certain leaders in Rajasthan to tarnish his image
Pilot’s remarks come a day after the Congress sacked him as Rajasthan’s deputy chief minister and the party’s state unit president. Two loyalists of Pilot were also dropped from the state Cabinet.
“I have worked very hard to bring the Congress party back in the government and defeat the BJP,” he told PTI
In an apparent reference to Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot’s camp, Pilot said some leaders in Rajasthan were trying to fuel speculation that he is joining the BJP and that he would like to categorically state that he was not doing so
“Such a speculation is being fuelled to tarnish my image,” he said
Pilot had kept away from two CLP meetings held on Monday and Tuesday after which the action against him was taken
Pilot has been upset since the Congress picked Gehlot as the chief minister after the 2018 assembly polls, while his own supporters insisted that he deserved credit for the party’s victory as its state unit president
The current crisis erupted last Friday when the Rajasthan Police sent a notice to Pilot, asking him to record his statement over the alleged bid to bring down the government
The same notice was sent to the chief minister and some other MLAs, but Pilot’s supporters claimed that it was only meant to humiliate him
The Special Operation Group (SOG) had sent out the notices after tapping a phone conversation between two men, who were allegedly discussing the fall of the Gehlot government.
Rajasthan Speaker has issued notices to Sachin Pilot and 18 other rebel Congress MLAs after the party sought their disqualification from the state assembly.
Sacked deputy chief minister Sachin Pilot and the other MLAs were asked to respond to the notices by Friday. The notices were issued on Tuesday.
The MLAs had defied a whip and did not attend its legislature party meetings held on Monday and Tuesday.
“Notices have been issued to 19 rebel MLAs, including Sachin Pilot, yesterday,” Speaker C P Joshi told on Wednesday.
Sources said the notices were sent after the chief whip of the Congress in Rajasthan Assembly, Mahesh Joshi, wrote to the Speaker, seeking proceedings against the rebel MLAs in accordance with the 10th Schedule of the Constitution.
The Congress also cited past Supreme Court rulings to seek their disqualification.
Among those sent notices are Vishvendra Singh and Ramesh Meena, who were sacked along with Pilot from the state cabinet after their rebellion against Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot.
Others include Deepender Singh Shekhawat, Bhanwar Lal Sharma and Harish Chandra Meena, who had given statements to the media challenging the Gehlot government.
The chief whip alleged in his complaint that the MLAs deliberately conspired against the Congress, acting openly against its interests.
They indulged in activities “blatantly prejudicial” to the continuation of the state government, the letter to the Speaker said.
Mahesh Joshi also wrote that the MLAs “deliberately absented” themselves from the meeting of the Congress Legislature Party held on Monday and, despite reminders, failed to attend the second meeting the next day.
The rebel MLAs allegedly made statements to the media against the interests of Congress and its government in Rajasthan.
Sachin Pilot was on Tuesday sacked as deputy chief minister and the state Congress president after he did not show up at the Congress Legislature Party meetings. Two other ministers in the Pilot camp were also dropped from the Cabinet.
The Congress chief whip alleged that over the past several days attempts are being made to topple the state government through corruption, bribery and other illegal means .
He also referred to a probe by the Special Operations Group (SOG) of the Rajasthan Police to investigate the conspiracy .
AICC general secretary Avinash Pande on Wednesday said it was up to the Speaker to decide what action to take if the replies to the notices were not satisfactory.
The party has also issued a gag order, saying no Congress member can communicate with the media without the permission of the newly appointed state unit chief.
On Tuesday, Pande, who is the Rajasthan in-charge at the AICC, dissolved the state executive and all cells of the Rajasthan Pradesh Congress Committee (RPCC).
The Congress appointed Govind Singh Dotasara as the president of the party’s Rajasthan unit.
With the appointment of the new president, a new state executive and departments will be formed, Pande said.