Congress Doubts Sachin Pilot’s Intentions, Say Party Sources, Party’s Crisis Deepens

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Sachin Pilot has ruled out a resolution that does not involve him being promoted to Chief Minister.

Jaipur:
A day after Sachin Pilot proclaimed that he was not joining the BJP, raising talk of a rapprochement with the Congress, party sources cast doubts on his intentions based on “evidence” from a hotel near Delhi where some 20 rebel Rajasthan MLAs have been camping. Extra rooms are being booked at the hotel in Gurgaon, the sources said, raising the possibility that while talking peace on one hand, Sachin Pilot is trying to add to his band of rebels. Sources say Mr Pilot has not sought any appointment either with Congress president Sonia Gandhi or the other Gandhis, showing a singular lack of interest in any truce after declaring that rumours linking him to the BJP were an “attempt to malign him with the Gandhis”. Both Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra have reached out to him in the past few days.

  1. Sources say the possibility cannot be ruled out that Sachin Pilot’s strong denial of any truck with the BJP is linked to disqualification notices served to 19 rebel MLAs.

  2. The disqualification of the rebels will help Sachin Pilot’s chief adversary Ashok Gehlot, the Rajasthan Chief Minister, by bringing down the majority-mark in a floor test. If the rebels can avoid it and vote as Congress members, Mr Gehlot’s government could fall.

  3. Mr Gehlot and the Rajasthan Congress has been firm on the notices. The MLAs have been asked to explain anti-party activities or face disqualification if they don’t come up with a satisfactory reply by Friday.

  4. As the rebels stayed away from Jaipur, the Congress sent notices via SMS, WhatsApp, email and post and even pasted documents in Hindi and English on walls outside the homes of the rebels to make sure they get the message.

  5. The rebel MLAs are consulting lawyers on petitioning the Rajasthan High Court against the disqualification notices. The court is closed till July 20 over coronavirus. Sources say Mr Pilot asked senior Congress leader and noted lawyer Abhishek Manu Singhvi to take up his case, but was told it would “not be ethical”.

  6. Since Sunday, Mr Pilot has been in Delhi along with some 20 MLAs. After he reiterated yesterday that he was not joining the BJP, the Congress asked him to “immediately stop accepting hospitality” in BJP-ruled Haryana.

  7. The BJP has 73 MLAs and needs at least 30 to take power in Rajasthan. Congress sources fear Mr Pilot is working to reach that target.

  8. Mr Pilot, say sources, has been cold to any offer that does not involve him being named Chief Minister, a post he was denied after the Congress won the 2018 Rajasthan election. In a truce formulated by Rahul Gandhi, Mr Pilot, 42, settled for the post of Mr Gehlot’s deputy, but that did not end their feud. Mr Pilot alleges that the Chief Minister undermined and humiliated him constantly over the next two years.

  9. The fight boiled over when on Friday, Mr Pilot was asked to answer questions on alleged attempts to buy Congress MLAs for a coup by the BJP. Mr Gehlot had ordered the investigation last month when he put up Congress MLAs at a hotel for 10 days allegedly to keep them away from inducements by the BJP.

  10. Mr Gehlot, who has been on the offensive against his former deputy, was yesterday asked to dial down his attacks, which included a jibe that “good English and handsome looks is not everything.” The Chief Minister also doubled down on his allegations of horse-trading and accused Mr Pilot of deal-making.



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