Former Rajasthan minister Ramesh Meena on Wednesday responded to Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot after Gehlot’s accusation that Sachin Pilot was involved in horse-trading with the Bharatiya Janata Party in an attempt to bring down the state government, ANI reported. He demanded an answer from Gehlot as to how he had managed to get MLAs from the Bahujan Samaj Party to join the Congress over the last few years.
“Today he [Gehlot] is saying that crores of money is being offered and accepted,” Meena was quoted as saying by the news agency. “All I would like to ask him is that when we were in BSP and later joined Congress, how much did he give us? He should answer that honestly.” Meena was one of the leaders who quit BSP to join the Congress. On Monday, he had affirmed his support to Pilot.
Meena also accused Gehlot of ignoring the demands of revolting MLAs. “People were dissatisfied with his pattern of work, bureaucrats dominated and lawmakers were unable to work,” he said. “The chief minister had a tyrannical attitude.”
On Tuesday, the Congress removed Pilot as the deputy chief minister of Rajasthan and from his position as the state unit chief. Meena and his colleague Vishvendra Singh were also dropped from the Rajasthan Cabinet.
Earlier on Wednesday, Gehlot had claimed that he had proof of Pilot being involved in horse-trading. “Money was offered,” he said. “And who gave the clarification that nothing was happening? Those who were themselves part of the conspiracy were giving clarifications. Our deputy chief minister and PCC [state Congress committee] president himself was doing the deal and was giving statements that no horse-trading was taking place.”
“We had to keep people at a hotel for 10 days, if we had not done that, the same thing that is happening in Manesar now would have happened back then,” Gehlot added.
Earlier in the day, Pilot again denied speculation that he would switch over to the BJP. “The BJP link is an attempt to malign me in the eyes of the Gandhis,” Pilot said. “I am still a member of the Congress party.” He said he had not decided a future course for himself yet, but “would like to serve the people of Rajasthan”.
Several senior Congress leaders asked Pilot to resolve his differences with the party. Congress National General Secretary Avinash Pande said that the doors of the party were not closed for Pilot.Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala also urged Pilot to end talks with the BJP.
Congress leader Veerappa Moily said Pilot’s political future was with the Congress. “Whatever grievances you have need to be resolved within the forum of the party,” he said. “It’s good that Pilot says he won’t join the BJP.”
Pilot’s rebellion against the Congress in Rajasthan has brought the Gehlot administration to the brink of collapse. The power struggle between Gehlot and Pilot is not new, but the latest crisis was triggered after Pilot was summoned by the Rajasthan Anti-Terror Squad and the Special Operations Group last week. However, Gehlot had pointed out that the notice was misinterpreted, adding that a similar notice was sent to him as well.