The political crisis in the Congress-led Rajasthan government continued on Tuesday as the party dismissed Sachin Pilot as its deputy chief minister and the state chief. Fifty-nine Congress office bearers in Rajasthan’s Tonk city resigned in protest against Pilot’s removal.
Meanwhile, a meeting of Rajasthan’s Council of Ministers was underway at Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot’s residence.
Pilot had earlier denied being in talks with the Bharatiya Janata Party, but Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot has alleged the saffron party is behind the turmoil in the state. The BJP has demanded that the Congress government should take a floor test to prove their majority in the Assembly.
Here is how the day panned out:
11 pm: The meetings at Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot’s residence conclude, reports News18. Gehlot was holding Cabinet and council of ministers meetings. No announcements have been made regarding what came of the meetings.
10.50 pm: BJP senior leader and former Speaker Sumitra Mahajan says young leaders should also get a chance to prove their mettle in politics, reports NDTV. “There is an internal battle (in the Congress) going on in Rajasthan,” she says. “But the time has come that there should be no neglect of youth leadership (in politics). BJP, in away, has started thinking that young leaders should not be ignored. The young should also get a chance to show their abilities in politics.”
10.41 pm: Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party tweets a cartoon presumably referring to the Rajasthan situation, in which the Congress party symbol slowly morphs into the BJP’s lotus symbol. The tweet is not accompanied by any text.
10.25 pm: The Congress has not stated the reason for suspending Jha, thus not directly linking it to his comments about Rajasthan. Jha is a former party spokesperson.
He was removed as spokesperson in June, after he had questioned the Congress leadership in a newspaper articles, reports Hindustan Times.
10.20 pm: Sanjay Jha, who criticised the Congress for the situation in Rajasthan, has been suspended.
9.18 pm: BJP holds a meeting to discuss the Rajasthan political crisis.
Former Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje is expected to attend another meeting in Jaipur at 11 am on Wednesday, according to NDTV.
8.32 pm: Congress leader Shashi Tharoor says it is sad to see Sachin Pilot leave the party. “I am sad to see Sachin Pilot leave Congress,” he tweets. “I consider him one of our best and brightest, and wish it had not come to this. Instead of parting, he should have joined the effort to make the Party a better and more effective instrument for his, and our, dreams.”
7.48 pm: Pilot thanks his supporters on Twitter.
7.43 pm: Ashok Gehlot and Rajasthan ministers are seen leaving the Fairmont Hotel in Jaipur for his residence.
6.41 pm: Fifty-nine Congress office bearers in Rajasthan’s Tonk city resign in protest against Sachin Pilot’s removal as deputy chief minister.
6.37 pm: An MLA from the Bhartiya Tribal Party (BTP), which has withdrawn support to the Ashok Gehlot government, claims that he is being held hostage and not allowed to leave Jaipur.
It is not clear if Rajkumar Roat, BTP legislator from Chorasi, has withdrawn support to the Congress government. The two party MLAs were asked to stay neutral in case of a floor test in the Assembly.
6.35 pm: Congress’s district president in Rajasthan’s Pali area quits in support of Sachin Pilot.
6.28 pm: Bharatiya Janata Party leader Jyotiraditya Scindia says there is no place for capability in the Congress, ANI reports. He also hits out at former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath. “ When Kamal Nath was CM [chief minister] he didn’t have time to hold a meeting over COVID but he had the time to go to Indore for IIFA [International Indian Film Academy Awards] awards,” he says. “A fighter [Shivraj Singh Chouhan] came to the front and took the reins in his hands on 23rd March and single-handedly faced the pandemic in the state.”
5.46 pm: Sacked Rajasthan Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot will hold a press conference on Wednesday at 10 am, reports NDTV.
5.38 pm: Vishvendra Singh, who was dropped as a minister from the Rajasthan Cabinet, questions Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot’s decision, reports ANI. “What anti-party statement did we make,” he asks. “We only wanted to get high command’s attention to promises in our manifesto as we haven’t been able to deliver them in close to two years of being in power. For what fault was action taken?”
5 pm: Rajasthan Cabinet meeting to be held at Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot’s residence at 7.30 pm and the meeting of Council of Ministers will take place at 8 pm today, according to ANI.
4.20 pm: BJP leader Gulab Chandra Kataria says the Congress government should prove majority on the floor. “A vertical division can be seen in Congress party in Rajasthan, with the sacking of deputy chief minister,” he adds. “Now, if chief minister wants to expand his Cabinet, he should first prove majority on the floor. He will not send a good message if he does it without floor test.”
4 pm: BJP Rajasthan chief Satish Poonia says people are angry and disappointed with the Congress government, reports ANI. “No power in the world can save it,” he adds. “Our priority is that this government loses power. We are vigilant, monitoring the situation and will decide our strategy as the situation unfolds.”
3.35 pm: Pilot drops his Congress designations from his Twitter bio. His nameplate has also been removed from the Rajasthan Congress office, NDTV reports.
3.30 pm: It is unclear what Ashok Gehlot’s numbers in the Assembly are now. Two members of the Bharatiya Tribal Party, which was in alliance with the Congress, withdrew their support, says NDTV. The news channel speculates that the chief minister’s numbers may be as low as around 100 legislators.
The Rajasthan Assembly has 200 seats, so Gehlot would need 101 MLAs backing him.
3.05 pm: Gehlot again claims the BJP is behind the political crisis, adding that the party has been planning it for six months, News18 reports.
According to ANI, Gehlot says the BJP has run the entire show, including arranging the resort where Pilot and his supporters are staying. “The same team which worked in Madhya Pradesh is at work here,” alleges Gehlot.
2.30 pm: After days of silence, Sachin Pilot tweets: “You can harass the truth, but not defeat it.”
2.15 pm: Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot meets Governor Kalraj Mishra after Sachin Pilot is sacked, reports ANI.
2.07 pm: Pilot ignored summons from the party’s top leaders including the Gandhis, reports claim. Despite many attempts that were made to speak to him, he was not in touch with the Congress leadership before he was sacked, according to NDTV.
2 pm: Congress leader Randeep Singh Surjewala says Pilot was given ample opportunities, including key posts in the party. The Congress adds that Pilot was “ensnared” by the BJP, reports NDTV,
1.51 pm: Govind Dotsra is the new Rajasthan Pradesh Congress Chief.
1.45 pm: The Congress sacks Sachin Pilot as deputy chief minister of Rajasthan and state party chief.
Updates from earlier in the day:
- Multiple Congress leaders appealed to Pilot and asked him to attend the Legislature Party meeting on Tuesday morning along with the MLAs supporting him. However, Pilot and his supporters skipped the meeting.
- Former BJP-led National Democratic Alliance ally Shiv Sena accused the BJP of being behind the political turmoil in Rajasthan. Meanwhile, former Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia, who defected to the BJP in March, said the country was safe in Narendra Modi’s hands, while Madhya Pradesh was safe in Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s hands.
- Some Congress leaders have openly supported Pilot. Sanjay Jha asked why Gehlot was rewarded with the chief ministership after delivering only 21 Assembly seats in the election, while former Speaker Deepender Shekhawat demanded a floor test.
- Ashok Gehlot’s numbers in the Asembly have slipped with Sachin Pilot’s rebellion. While Pilot claimed he has the support of 30 MLAs, the Congress said the number is no more than 16. On Monday, Pilot insisted that Gehlot’s claim of having 106 legislators on his side was a gross exaggeration.