Former Rajasthan Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot on Wednesday dismissed rumours of him joining the Bharatiya Janata Party, reported PTI. “I am not joining the BJP,” he said, adding that he had worked hard to bring the Congress back in power after defeating the saffron party in the state.
The former deputy chief minister said that a few leaders in the state were behind the rumours on him joining the BJP. He further reiterated for a third time that he had no plans to join the saffron party.
“The BJP link is an attempt to malign me in the eyes of the Gandhis,” Pilot told NDTV. “I am still a member of the Congress party.” He claimed that he had not decided a future course for himself yet, but “would like to serve the people of Rajasthan”.
The Congress-led administration in Rajasthan is in the middle of a political crisis. On Tuesday, the party removed Pilot from his positions as the Rajasthan deputy chief minister and as the state Congress chief.
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Fifty-nine Congress office-bearers in Rajasthan’s Tonk city resigned in protest against Pilot’s removal. Following this, Pilot tweeted on Tuesday: “My heartfelt thanks and gratitude to all those who have come out in my support today.”
The action followed after Pilot skipped two round of meetings convened by the Congress to discuss the political crisis. Several Congress leaders had reached out to Pilot since Sunday in an attempt to resolve his feud with Gehlot.
The power struggle between Gehlot and Pilot had been going on for quite some time, but the latest crisis was triggered after Pilot was summoned by the Rajasthan Anti-Terror Squad and the Special Operations Group last week. The SOG had sought time from Pilot to record his statement in a case of conspiracy and sedition registered after attempts were allegedly made by the BJP to bribe Congress MLAs to switch sides during last month’s Rajya Sabha elections. However, Gehlot had pointed out that the notice was misinterpreted, adding that a similar one was sent to him as well.
The Congress has accused the BJP of attempting to destabilise the Rajasthan government by bribing its MLAs, and said such efforts would not be fruitful as the Gehlot administration will complete its term.
The Rajasthan Assembly
While the former deputy chief minister claims 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.
Rajasthan Assembly Speaker CP Joshi on Wednesday issued notices to 19 rebel Congress MLAs, including Pilot, after the party moved to initiate disqualification proceedings against them. They have been giving time till Friday to respond.
Before the political turmoil 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 – one from the Rashtriya Lok Dal, two MLAs from the Bharatiya Tribal Party and two more from the Communist Party of India (Marxist) – support it.
The majority mark in the Rajasthan Assembly is 101. The BJP has 72 legislators and has the support of three Rashtriya Loktantrik Party MLAs. If the rebel legislators are disqualified, it would help the Ashok Gehlot government as it would bring down the majority mark during a floor test, demands for which have been raised by the Bharatiya Janata Party.