The Congress said on Monday that its president Sonia Gandhi has decided that the party will set up a three-member panel to address the matters raised by dissident leader and former Rajasthan Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot and the MLAs backing him, ANI reported. Congress leaders Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, KC Venugopal and Ahmed Patel will be a part of the panel, according to News18.
A meeting of the panel is now underway in Delhi, according to ANI.
Pilot had earlier on Monday met Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi in Delhi for the first time since he revolted against Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, setting off a chain of political events that have pushed the Congress government in the state to the brink of collapse.
Venugopal, who is the All India Congress Committee general secretary, said Pilot and Gandhi had a “frank, open and conclusive” discussion. “Sachin Pilot has committed to working in interest of Congress party and Congress government in Rajasthan,” he added.
The developments came ahead of the crucial Rajasthan Assembly session on August 14, where the chief minister will seek a confidence vote. The meeting between Pilot and Gandhi took place exactly a month after Pilot and 18 dissident Rajasthan legislators left Jaipur to rebel against Gehlot and proceeded to Delhi.
According to NDTV, party officials claimed a “breakthrough” was achieved at the meeting as Gandhi agreed to resolve all of Pilot’s concerns about the Rajasthan government. The legislators from Pilot’s camp said the the meeting, which lasted for about two hours, was “a meeting of minds”. The former deputy chief minister also met Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi in the afternoon, they said.
Pilot has till now insisted on the removal of Gehlot as chief minister as the precondition for any sort of rapprochement. The Congress, on the other hand, has asked him and his legislators to “give up the hospitality” of the Bharatiya Janata Party before initiating any dialogue to end the political impasse.
Gehlot has also repeatedly accused Pilot of colluding with BJP to topple his government. But Pilot has rejected the allegation and asserted that he had no plans to join the saffron party.
The Gehlot camp has been claiming the support of 102 MLAs, including the Independents, in the 200-member Assembly. Without six Bahujan Samaj Party MLAs who had defected to the Congress in September last year, the numbers drop to 96. The Bharatiya Janata Party has 72 MLAs. The majority mark in the Assembly is 101.
Gehlot is hoping that the Congress MLAs supporting Pilot, who were camping in BJP-ruled Haryana, would return to the party fold when the Assembly session begins.
On Saturday, Gehlot appealed to all MLAs to “stand with the truth” and “listen to the voice of the people to save democracy”. Gehlot expressed confidence that attempts to destabilise his government will not work. He was also sure that the legislators would act in the larger interest of people of the state and will cooperate in fulfilling the promises of development and prosperity.
On August 1, Gehlot had said if the Congress high command forgave the rebels, including Pilot, then he would also welcome them back in the fold. Gehlot added that he would do whatever the Congress leadership wanted.