- Congress leader Hema Ram Choudhary demanded change in leadership
- He expressed doubts on Ashok Gehlot's claim of support from 106 MLAs
- The Congress on Monday packed off at least 100 MLAs to a hotel
Congress leader Hema Ram Choudhary, who is backing rebellious Rajasthan unit chief Sachin Pilot in the continuing power tussle, has demanded a change in the leadership of the state government. In an interview with NDTV, he expressed doubts on Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot's claim of support from 106 MLAs. "If they have 106 MLAs, they have majority. Then why did they need to lock up the MLAs in a hotel?" he asked.
The Congress on Monday packed off at least 100 MLAs to a hotel to ward off possible inducements to join the Sachin Pilot group, which is also camped in a luxury hotel in the national capital. Mr Gehlot flashed the victory sign after a meeting of legislators, in a show of strength.
Mr Pilot, who was forced to give up his contention for the Chief Minister's post in 2018, claims support of 30 MLAs but the Congress sources say he has no more than 16. "We are with Sachin Pilot. 30 people are supporting us," Mr Choudhury said.
The leader warned the Congress that it will struggle even to win eleven seats if the leadership is not altered, implying Mr Pilot must replace the veteran Chief Minister.
"The Rajasthan Vidhan Sabha Election 2013 was contested under the leadership of Ashok Gehlot; the Congress then got just 21 seats, first time in the history of Rajasthan… if we continue with the present leadership, we will get no more than 11 seats in the next election - we want to warn the party's central leadership," he said, adding, "Change leadership, save Congress".
He pointed out that despite Mr Pilot playing a pivotal role in the Congress's revival after a disastrous show in the 2014 national election, he was ignored for the chief ministerial position.
"These elections were contested under the leadership of Sachin Pilot, who strengthened the Congress by visiting houses and connecting with people for five years. Because of his efforts, Congress MLAs won and the party came in a position to form government. (But) when it came to appointing the Chief Minister, he was sidelined. Since, it was the high command's decision, we drank that poison but now the water has gone above our head," he said.
He claimed Mr Gehlot's government didn't deliver on the promises made in the Congress manifesto.
"We have to save ourselves. We had made some promises to the masses in return of votes and they have some expectations from us. We decided that very less time remains…We are not a position to face the people," he added.
Asked if he will consider joining the BJP if his demands were not met, he said: "We fought against the BJP in the elections. We have nothing to do with the BJP. But it is our duty to save the Congress."