Rajasthan crisis deepens, Congress invites Sachin Pilot for meeting tomorrow
New Delhi/Jaipur/IBNS: Even as the Congress on Monday averted a major crisis in Rajasthan after the state's deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot rebelled against CM Ashok Gehlot, the situation is far from being comfortable for the Gandhi family led outfit as it shifted 100 MLAs to a resort, according to media reports.
Following the meeting of Congress MLAs with CM Gehlot in Jaipur, the party earlier in the day expressed confidence in remaining its flock together in Rajasthan.
Triggering a conflict and hinting at parting ways with Congress, Sachin Pilot arrived in Delhi on Saturday night after turning rebel against Gehlot and claiming to have the support of 30 MLAs.
The party has called another meeting of legislators at 10 am on Tuesday inviting rebel Sachin Pilot. However, media reports said, he has turned down the invitation.
Pilot had earlier denied meeting with Congress top brass and rather is allegedly in talks with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leadership in an apparent signal for switching sides.
The crisis in Rajasthan comes only three months after the Congress was unable to protect the Kamal Nath-led government in Madhya Pradesh from toppling when Jyotiraditya Scindia left the party along with 22 loyalists and joined the BJP.
Eyeing a similar fate, the Congress reached out to Sachin Pilot, but according to reports, the 42-year-old denied meeting even with Rahul Gandhi despite both sharing affection for each other.
The deepening crisis was somehow saved for the day with at least 97 of 107 elected lawmakers reaching Gehlot's house for a meeting despite Pilot claiming the support of 30 MLAs, whose resignation can leave the Congress-led government in Rajasthan into minority.
Acknowledging infighting within the party, Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala earlier in the day told a press conference, "Conflicts do happen in a family. It will be solved within the family only. The solution won't be available somewhere else."
"If someone goes to another party, it will be a loss for him as well as the party. I am sure he won't take that route," Surjewala said without taking the name of Pilot.
Sachin Pilot, who was a chief architect behind the Congress win in the Rajasthan assembly election in 2018, was a key contender for the post of Chief Minister. However, the Congress top brass decided against it and gave the post to senior leader Ashok Gehlot, making Pilot the Deputy CM.
Since then, there has been an open discord between the two leaders. In one of the recent incidents, Pilot had publicly differed with Gehlot's response towards the deaths of children at government hospitals.
It has been reported in media that Pilot was in talks with the BJP since March owing to internal conflicts in the Congress' Rajasthan unit.
"Nobody wants to leave his home, but can't continue to put up with this kind of humiliation; my MLAs and supporters are extremely hurt and I will have to listen to them,' he told me on the phone earlier this evening," senior journalist and political analyst Javed Ansari wrote in his blog about Pilot.
The Congress has 107 seats in the 200-member Rajasthan Assembly and is supported by 12 independent candidates. In addition, five MLAS from other parties -- the Rashtriya Lok Dal, the CPM and the Bharatiya Tribal Party - support the Gehlot-government.
However, on Monday, the Bharatiya Tribal Party withdrew its support from the Congress but its two MLAs are likely to defy the order.
The BJP, which has 73 MLAs, needs the support of another 35 to form government in Rajasthan.