Sachin Pilot, accused of conspiring horse-trading on behalf of the BJP to pull down the Ashok Gehlot government, has taken the allegation head on, demanding that one of his accusers pay a one-rupee compensation and issue a written apology. In a legal notice, Mr Pilot said his Congress MLA Giriraj Singh Malinga made the accusation with a view to tarnish his image and extract political mileage.
Mr Pilot, who is at the heart of the crisis in Rajasthan, went on the warpath after being investigated into the alleged horse trading by the BJP ahead of the Rajya Sabha elections. His former boss, Ashok Gehlot, claimed he has the "evidence" of Mr Pilot's involvement in horse trading and deal making.
Earlier this week, Mr Malinga suggested that he was the evidence.
"I had a discussion with Sachin Pilot. He spoke to me and said how much do you want. He told me Rs 35 crore," Mr Malinga told reporters on Monday.
Claiming Mr Pilot has spoken to him two or three times about this since December, Mr Malinga said, "This has been happening since December, it is nothing new. I told them I cannot do this".
Mr Pilot, who has been stripped of his posts in the government and the party and is battling disqualification proceedings in court, had called the allegations "concocted" and "vexatious".
He earlier said the allegations about his links with the BJP were a ruse to malign him to the Gandhis. The Congress had scoffed at the claim, pointing out that despite party orders, he is still holed up in a BJP-ruled state with the 18 MLAs supporting him.
In the legal notice sent yesterday to Mr Malinga, Mr Pilot said it was "surprising that (Mr Malinga) remained silent for seven months". The MLA, he suggested, has "suddenly raked up a bunch of lies" to malign his reputation.
Mr Pilot also said "a certain section of the party considers him a rival and involve in this kind of tactics to bring down his reputation'.
"The biggest instance of this being the disqualification notices that have been issued to him that are already a subject matter of proceeding in the High Court of Rajasthan," the notice read.
Rajasthan Speaker CP Joshi today went to the Supreme Court, challenging the High Court's order asking him to pause any action against the rebel team led by Mr Pilot. In his petition, which will be heard tomorrow, he said it was a "a constitutional crisis" that has to be averted.
The Team Pilot has also filed a petition asking to be heard before the court takes a decision on the Speaker's request.