- The Congress government in Rajasthan is on the brink
- Sachin Pilot skipped a second meeting of MLAs today
- Two ministers who have joined him in his revolt have also been dropped
Here is your ten-point cheat sheet on this big story:
"The truth can be harassed but not defeated," Sachin Pilot reacted in a tweet. Later, he added: "My heartfelt thanks and gratitude to all those who have come out in my support today. Ram Ram Sa!" His supporters said the "public humiliation" of their leader was "totally unacceptable" to them and those who treated him badly should be punished.
Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, whose tally has slipped into the red zone, held a cabinet meeting in the evening. The Congress now has 100 MLAs, the half-way mark in the 200-member assembly, after three MLAs left his camp this morning. Mr Gehlot had sent MLAs in buses to a resort straight from a show of strength at his home yesterday, betraying his worry over the threat from Sachin Pilot.
Before Sachin Pilot's rebellion, the Congress had 107 MLAs besides the support of 13 independents and five members from smaller parties. That number has now come down to 90 Congress MLAs, seven independent members and three from smaller parties - 100. Sachin Pilot has at least 20 MLAs on his side - 17 Congress and three independent legislators.
One ally, Bhartiya Tribal Party (BTP), which has two MLAs in the Rajasthan assembly, has withdrawn support from the Congress. One of its MLAs, Rajkumar Roat, posted a video alleging that the police had stopped him from leaving Jaipur and had taken his car keys. "It is a hostage-like situation," he alleged, also sharing a video of the keys being snatched.
The BJP, which had kept a cautious eye on the Congress turmoil so far, made its first move today. The party despatched a leader, Om Mathur, to Jaipur and held a meeting there. But asked whether the BJP would demand a floor test, the state party chief said it was "up to Sachin Pilot" to ask for one. On Wednesday, the BJP will hold a crucial meeting at 11 am in Jaipur, which will be attended by former chief minister Vasundhara Raje.
Mr Gehlot is banking on Sachin Pilot and other rebels being disqualified, which will bring down the half-way mark and fortify his numbers if he has to face a test of strength.
The Congress made several attempt to reach out to Mr Pilot and many leaders said how things went down was "sad". Last night, Congress leader Randeep Singh Surjewala had said: "Doors are open for Sachin Pilot and other MLAs. They will be heard and solutions found. This is the discipline of the party,"
Mr Pilot had denied that he is headed to the BJP though Congress sources asserted he was always in touch with the party. The party accused the BJP of setting up the Rajasthan government crisis with help from the sulking Mr Pilot, sticking to the Madhya Pradesh playbook in which Jyotiraditya Scindia - another leader who nursed a grudge for long before quitting the Congress and joining the BJP -- was the lead contributor.
The BJP, which has 73 MLAs, needs the support of another 35 to take power in Rajasthan.
Since the Congress took power in Rajasthan in 2018, Mr Gehlot and Sachin Pilot had kept their mutual acrimony barely under the surface. The feud peaked when Mr Pilot was asked to answer questions in an investigation into an alleged attempt to destabilise the state government ahead of last month's Rajya Sabha elections. Chief Minister Gehlot said he too had received summons, but that did not wash, since Mr Gehlot, as state home minister, practically sent himself the summons.
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