Split wide open: Rajasthan CM Gehlot calls 9pm meeting in a show of power against young gun Sachin Pilot
Jaipur/IBNS: While the Congress veterans like Kapil Sibal fear the tug of war between party old guard and new might meet a similar fate as that of Madhya Pradesh, where a disgruntled Jyotiraditya Scindia toppled Kamal Nath, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot is not ready to yield despite pressure from the party high command and has called a meeting of the party legislature at his residence at 9 pm today.
Reports said Congress high command has conveyed its displeasure to Gehlot over issuing orders to question Rajasthan Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot.
"Both Sonia and Rahul Gandhi have been briefed about the situation. We are confident we won't allow a Madhya Pradesh situation to take place again," a senior party leader said, reported NDTV.
The meeting is being viewed as Gehlot's attempt to maintain a strong face even as the Congress high command disapproved of his action against Pilot.
On Friday last, the Rajasthan Special Operations Group summoned Pilot to appear for questioning in an investigation that was launched during the Rajya Sabha election for three seats in June, when Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot accused the BJP of poaching Congress MLAs.
Ashok Gehlot's aides said they have invited Sachin Pilot to attend the meeting, but couldn't contact him.
"We have called this meeting to preempt the BJP, which keeps changing the rules of the game be it in Madhya Pradesh or Manipur," the sources said, reported NDTV.
"We are taking adequate precautions to ensure that all our MLAs are present," sources said, the report added.
Pilot has reached Delhi with the support of 16 Congress MLAs and three Independents and is said to be in talks with the BJP top brass.
Pilot's exit from Congress is also almost certain after a notice was served on Friday last to him to appear for questioning in an investigation into alleged attempts to destabilize his own government, media reports said.
Damages done, the irate Sachin Pilot loyalists said the Congress leadership didn't do anything to stop the treatment meted out to him.
"Never before has a sitting state president or a Deputy Chief Minister served such a letter," sources close to Pilot were quoted as saying by NDTV. "The High command has not done anything to intervene," they added.
Dismissing the allegations that he was targeting Pilot, Gehlot said he was also summoned for questioning in the investigation and so was Rajasthan Congress chief whip and it was their duty to cooperate. At the same time he also maintained that BJP was offering Rs15 crore to each MLA to switch allegiance.
Last year, Gehlot had blamed Pilot for his son's defeat in Lok Sabha elections, and openly said Pilot should take responsibility.
The Congress holds 107 seats in the 200-member Rajasthan Assembly and has support from 12 independent candidates. It also enjoys support of five other MLAs of the Rashtriya Lok Dal, the CPM and the Bharatiya Tribal Party - support Gehlot.
However, reports said Pilot would not be offered the post of Chief Minister by BJP. Reports also said that Sachin Pilot has said he may form a regional party and may not join BJP.
Sachin Pilot was a key contender for the post of Chief Minister after the Congress won the Assembly Elections in 2018. But the post was given to senior leader Ashok Gehlot and Pilot was made the Deputy CM.
Since then there have been open differences between the two leaders.
Though Gehlot got the top post in the Congress government, Sachin Pilot was made the Congress president of Rajasthan in recognition of the work he had done in rebuilding the party in the state. It is being said that this has been irking Gehlot and there have been talks that Pilot may be removed from that post, too, he had been holding for six years.
Meanwhile, senior party leader Kapil Sibal questioned "will we wake up only when the horses have bolted?" in a Tweet, directed, apparently, at the party leadership.
Worried for our party— Kapil Sibal (@KapilSibal) July 12, 2020
Will we wake up only after the horses have bolted from our stables ?
Sibal's tweet may not go down well with the party leadership though it should be seen as a wake up call to the Congress high command, according to political analysts.