Asserting that neither former Rajasthan deputy chief minister Sachin Pilot nor the MLAs supporting him have spoken against the top Congress leadership or the party, three legislators backing Mr Pilot on Tuesday said their fight is about "self-respect", and against the "dictatorial" working style of Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot.
Hemaram Chaudhary, a six time MLA and a former Congress legislative party leader, said, "We are true soldiers of the Congress and our fight is not against the party, but we cannot work under Gehlot's leadership".
The Chief Minister himself has stated that he was not on talking terms with the deputy Chief Minister, so it is for all to see that what kind of a government he was running, the senior Rajasthan Congress leader told PTI.
The assertion by senior leaders in the Pilot camp came hours after Congress' chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said that dissident MLAs should give up the hospitality of the BJP and the security of Haryana police if they want to hold a dialogue with the party.
On Saturday, Mr Gehlot in Jaisalmer said that he has no issues with any of the rebels if they apologise to the party high command. The state chief minister also said that he would abide by whatever the leadership decided about them.
Mr Gehlot has accused Mr Pilot and those supporting him of colluding with the BJP to topple his government by allegedly engaging in horse-trading.
Mr Chaudhary said the current standoff within the party in Rajasthan was not the outcome of a single event, but the result of one and a half years of "humiliation and systematic marginalisation" of Pilot within the Gehlot government.
"The continuous public humiliation of our leader (Pilot), sidelining of those close to him, constantly hampering work of the deputy chief minister and depriving him of authority has led to this situation," the MLA from the Gudamalani constituency in Barmer said.
"We could not bear it after a point and the last straw was the serving of a notice by the state police, that too on ''sedition charges'' to the sitting deputy chief minister," Mr Chaudhary said.
The MLA hit out at the AICC office bearers dealing with Rajasthan, particularly state in-charge Avinash Pande, alleging that they were completely biased against Mr Pilot and his supporters, and not willing to address their grievances even after repeated attempts over the last 18 months.
He said it was never about opposing the party or its national leadership, but those MLAs supporting Mr Pilot were against the "dictatorial leadership style" of the individual heading the government.
"Surely criticising leadership style of Gehlot can't be a good enough reason for the party to unceremoniously sack Mr Pilot as Deputy CM and PCC president," the MLA said.
Hitting out at Mr Gehlot, Mr Chaudhary cited an RTI inquiry to allege that in the first year of office, zero amount of money was spent on TV/Newspaper advertisements on Mr Pilot, whereas the state government spent more than 25 crore on the publicity of Mr Gehlot.
"Another RTI showed that the CM in the first year of office had used the state aircraft as many as 85 times, while the number of such trips for Mr. Pilot was zero. In fact the details show that Mr. Pilot had not travelled by air on official expense, even once," he claimed.