A major dispute has arisen between the ruling Congress and the Opposition BJP in Rajasthan, with Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot once again accusing the latter of trying to topple his government in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Mr. Gehlot said on Saturday that though huge sums of money were being offered to the Congress MLAs, his government was stable and would complete its term.
In the meantime, Congress party’s State chief and Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot has gone incommunicado.
Here are the latest updates:
Even as the Congress Legislature Party meet is underway, the party released this picture in a bid to show its strength.
According to sources, some independent legislators too took part in the meet.
Doors open for Sachin Pilot, says Surjewala
The Congress on Monday said its doors are open for Sachin Pilot.
Doors are open for Sachin Pilot and other MLAs, senior leader Randeep Surjewala told reporters ahead of a crucial state legislature party meeting.
“We are a family. Sachinji is also part of our family. If anyone is upset in family, they should find a solution by sitting with members of the family,” Mr. Surjewala said.
Avinash Pande, the AICC general secretary in-charge of Rajasthan, Mr. Surjewala and Ajay Maken were rushed to Jaipur ahead of the meeting amid a power tussle between Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot.
‘Over 100 MLAs present’
The Congress party claims over 100 MLAs attended today’s CLP meet. Sachin Pilot was the notable absentee. He had earlier sent a letter expressing his inability to attend the legislature party meet.
In the 200-seated Rajasthan Assembly, Congress has 107 MLAs. This includes six BSP MLAs who switched to Congress en masse in September last year.
Rajasthan Congress leaders question timing of I-T raids
Rajasthan government chief whip Mahesh Joshi on Monday condemned the income tax raids on premises linked to two Congress leaders.
“I condemn this. The raids are uncalled for and intended at threatening but we are not going to be distracted or scared by this,” he said.
Cooperative Minister Udailal Anjana also questioned the timing of the raids.
“This was done to create pressure. It apparently looks like leaders who are sitting in Delhi are behind these raids,” he said.
An update on income tax raids: Sources confirm the office and residence of Congress leader Dharmendra Rathore and Rajiv Arora, a member of State Congress Office, are also being searched.
Both of them are believed to be close to Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot.
A costly slip
Even as the CLP meeting is underway, Chhattisgarh in-charge P.L. Punia created flutter by claiming Sachin Pilot was with BJP now. In a few minutes, he clarified he meant Jyotiraditya Scindia, a former Congress leader now in the BJP.
“It is clear in the video that question was asked about Scindia ji and my reply was about Sh Scindia and by slip of tongue I took Sachin Pilots’ name instead of Scindia. Mistake is regretted,” he tweeted.
Here is the ANI video
Ministers and MLAs were seen gathering at Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot’s official residence in Jaipur.
The CLP meeting is expected to formally begin shortly.
I-T raids in Delhi, Jaipur in tax evasion case against Rajasthan group
The Income Tax Department is conducting searches in four cities, including Delhi and Jaipur, in connection with a tax evasion case against a Rajasthan-based jewellery group, officials said on Monday.
They said the raids have been launched early morning in Delhi, Jaipur, Mumbai and Kota. Official sources did not comment on reports claiming that the searches were linked to the current political crisis in the State.
AICC general secretary in-charge of Chhattisgarh, P.L. Punia told ANI: “Sachin Pilot is now in Bharatiya Janata Party. Everyone knows BJP’s attitude towards Congress party. We don’t need a certificate from BJP. In Congress Party, all leaders and workers are respected.”
Congress Legislature Party meeting to begin at official residence of Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot in Jaipur. Deputy CM Sachin Pilot was absent.
Congress claims support of 109 MLAs
Amid the political crisis in Rajasthan, the ruling Congress on Monday claimed that it had the support of 109 MLAs who had expressed their “trust and support” to the government led by Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and reposed “full confidence” in the leadership of AICC president Sonia Gandhi and party leader Rahul Gandhi.
Sachin Pilot’s rebellion with 30 MLAs puts Ashok Gehlot government on edge
The power struggle between Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and his deputy Sachin Pilot, that has been simmering for long, spilled out into the open on Sunday, threatening the stability of the 20-month-old Congress government in Rajasthan.
In a statement released through his media adviser, Mr. Pilot said the Gehlot government was now in a minority after over 30 Congress MLAs and some independent lawmakers had pledged support to him. Mr. Pilot also said he would not attend a meeting of the Congress Legislature Party scheduled for Monday.
Kapil Sibal says he is worried for Congress
In the backdrop of the political turmoil going on in Rajasthan, Rajya Sabha MP and Congress spokesperson Kapil Sibal tweeted that he is worried for the party.
So far, the Congress has been maintaining a radio silence even as speculation is going on about a possible rebellion led by Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot. Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot has called for a meeting of MLAs and independent legislators who are supporting his government.
Govt is stable, all Congress MLAs in touch with me, State in-charge Avinash Pande
Congress general secretary in-charge for the State Avinash Pande said all party MLAs in the State were in touch with him and wondered who were the ones purported to be siding with Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot.
Mr. Pilot, who has been engaged in a power tussle with Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot, continues to be incommunicado, leading to anxiety in the State unit.
Mr. Pande told PTI that he had not spoken to Mr. Pilot for the last two days and had left a message with him. “All Congress MLAs are in touch with me and the government in Rajasthan is stable and will last its full term,” he said.