Politics

Rahul Gandhi Meets Pilot Amid Silence From Gehlot, Says Grievances to Be Resolved

A Congress statement said the two leaders had a "frank, open and conclusive discussion", even as a rebel MLA indicated on Twitter that the story was far from over.

Jaipur: The dust kicked up by the political crisis within the Congress unit in Rajasthan seems to finally be settling.

On Monday, news of Sachin Pilot meeting Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi in Delhi for the first time since the showdown between him and Ashok Gehlot began last month started making the rounds. This was later confirmed in a statement issued by AICC secretary K.C. Venugopal on Monday night.

“Sachin Pilot has met with former Congress president Rahul Gandhi and expressed his grievances in detail. They have had a frank, open and conclusive discussion,” Venugopal said in the statement.

Venugopal added that Pilot would continue to be a part of the Congress in Rajasthan, “He has committed to work in the interest of the Congress party and the Congress government in Rajasthan.”

He further said that Congress president Sonia Gandhi has decided that the AICC will constitute a three-member committee to address the issues raised by Pilot and the rebel MLAs, and arrive at an appropriate resolution.

There is still a lot of speculation as to what such a resolution may entail as Pilot had been sacked from his positions as deputy chief minister and Rajasthan Pradesh Congress Committee chief.

Online, rumours of what Pilot’s demands are continue to swirl – it is being claimed that he has demanded that he be made chief minister and that he appoint his own deputy.

So far, there has been no reaction from chief minister Ashok Gehlot over this development.

At 7 pm, MLA Vishvendra Singh Bharatpur, who falls in the Pilot camp, indicated that the episode may not yet be over.

The BJP, which is in opposition in the state, has also been vocal about the new development.

Taking a pot shot at the Congress, Rajasthan BJP president Satish Poonia tweeted, “We were already saying that it’s a quarrel within the Congress, and blame was put on the BJP. The poor public had to watch Congress’ ‘ramlila’ for 31 days. Sister [Priyanka Gandhi] and brother [Rahul Gandhi] got up late, poor Ashok Gehlot!”

“If the quarrel is settled, then they should apologise to the public and get back to work, such as, waiving farm loans and forgiving water and electricity bills. They must give details of each and every expense made by them during these past 31 days,” he added in another tweet.

How did it all start?

The showdown between Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot and his former deputy Sachin Pilot began after former claimed that attempts were being made to topple his government. Subsequently, the state police registered an FIR against two men on horse trading charges and it was alleged that Pilot was aiming to be chief minister.

The Special Operations Group (SOG) sent a notice to Pilot to record his statements in the matter. The next day, he claimed that he had the support of 30 MLAs – about 19 of these MLAs then skipped two Congress Legislative Party (CLP) meetings that were urgently called to assess support to the ruling Gehlot government.

Following this, the Gehlot government, through its chief whip Mahesh Joshi, submitted a petition to speaker C.P. Joshi that listed reasons such as missing the CLP meetings, conspiring to topple the elected government in Rajasthan, hostile conduct and remaining inaccessible, to be considered as grounds for disqualification.

Also read: Explained: How Rajasthan HC’s Decision on 6 BSP MLAs Joining Congress Could Affect Floor Test

The state assembly secretariat issued notices to all the rebel MLAs, asking to send their written submissions within three days – July 17 – failing which ex-parte action would be sought against them.

The rebel MLAs who were served this notice moved to the high court, primarily stating that failure to attend meetings of the CLP – which was listed as a reason in the disqualification petition moved by the Gehlot government – was not grounds for disqualification.

The high court then barred the speaker from conducting the disqualification proceedings against the rebel Congress MLAs. Joshi had moved the Supreme Court, but the apex court refused to stay the high court proceedings. After the high court verdict, Gehlot staged a protest outside the Raj Bhavan.

Governor Kalraj Mishra also returned three proposals from the Gehlot cabinet, asking it to cite an ‘urgent reason’ to hold the session. Finally, on July 31, a fourth cabinet proposal demanding the assembly to be called into session on August 14 – upon complying with Mishra’s much-criticised direction to provide 21-days notice – was accepted.