The Income Tax Department on Monday raided two aides of Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, even as a political crisis unfolds in the state due to rebellion by Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot, NDTV reported. Rajiv Arora, vice president of the party’s Rajasthan unit, and All India Congress Committee member Dharmendra Rathore were raided, at locations in Jaipur, Kota, Delhi and Mumbai.
The Enforcement Directorate also conducted raids at several locations in Rajasthan, including at a five-star hotel in Jaipur, News18 reported. The Bharatiya Janata Party had previously accused the investor, Ramakanth Sharma, of laundering money for the chief minister’s son Vaibhav Gehlot.
The Congress accused the Income Tax Department of acting at the behest of the BJP. “After all, BJP’s lawyers came on the field,” Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala tweeted. “The Income Tax Department started raids in Jaipur. When will ED arrive?” The tweet was made before the Enforcement Directorate began its raids.
Rajasthan government Chief Whip Mahesh Joshi also condemned the raids, PTI reported. The raids are uncalled for and intended at threatening but we are not going to be distracted or scared by this,” he told reporters outside Gehlot’s residence, where a Congress meet is taking place. “Entire country is watching this.”
Rajasthan Cooperatives Minister Udailal Anjana alleged that “leaders who are sitting in Delhi” are responsible for the raids.
Congress Legislature Party meet at Gehlot’s residence
The Congress government in Rajasthan is staring at a political crisis after Pilot and legislators loyal to him reached Delhi on Sunday. Pilot and other party leaders in Rajasthan are reportedly upset with Gehlot for issuing orders to question the deputy chief minister in an investigation into alleged attempts to destabilise the state government. Pilot was summoned by the Rajasthan Anti-Terror Squad and the Special Operations Group on Friday.
Congress leader Avinash Pande said at a 2.30 am press conference on Monday that 109 MLAs support the Gehlot-led government.
Before the crisis erupted, the Congress had the backing of 125 MLAs in the 200-member Rajasthan Assembly, including 107 of its own lawmakers. As many as 13 Independents and five MLAs from other parties support it. The majority mark is 101. The BJP has 72 legislators and has the support of three Rashtriya Loktantrik Party MLAs.
Pilot denies move to BJP
Pilot is likely to meet Bharatiya Janata Party National President Jagat Prakash Nadda on Monday, NDTV reported quoting unidentified officials. However, when asked about this, the Congress leader dismissed speculation that he might be joining the saffron party. “I am not joining the BJP,” he told The Indian Express.