The Congress government in Rajasthan is "trying to murder democracy", rebel MLA Vishwendra Singh declared on Monday, as the tug-of-war between Team Gehlot and Team Pilot over disqualification notices sent to the latter played out in the Rajasthan High Court.
"I appeal to the people of my constituency - the way the state is trying to murder democracy is not hidden. I was their cabinet minister. Now I am being hounded by ACB (anti-corruption bureau) and SOG (special operations group)," the MLA from eastern Rajasthan's Deeg-Kumher constituency said Monday.
"We have done nothing anti-party. We only want a change in state leadership, that is all. I am outspoken and I will remain outspoken," Mr Singh stated.
Vishwendra Singh is one of two Congress MLAs - the other is Bhanwar Lal Sharma - to be suspended over allegations they conspired with the BJP to bring down the Gehlot government.
बेबाकी से बोलने वाला आदमी हूँ,— Vishvendra Singh Bharatpur (@vishvendrabtp) July 20, 2020
बेबाकी से बोलता रहूँगा
ऐसी गीदड़ भभकीयों से मैं डरने वाला नही हूँ।
आप सभी परिवारजनों से मेरी आपसे अपील है कि आप भ्रमित ना हो, भरतपुर राजपरिवार ने आपकी सेवा की है और हमेशा आपका प्यार एवं आशीर्वाद हमे मिलता रहा है, आगे भी इसी प्रकार बनाएं रखे। pic.twitter.com/tw9AA7xJtu
The Congress claimed Mr Sharma and Union Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat can be heard discussing bribes on leaked audio tapes. Both have denied that the voices are theirs.
NDTV cannot verify the authenticity of the tapes.
Mr Singh, Mr Sharma and at least 16 other MLAs loyal to Sachin Pilot, the former deputy chief minister whose open revolt has left the Congress in danger of losing a second state inside four months, have reportedly been camped out at a luxury resort in Haryana's Manesar since the storm broke.
Rajasthan Police has made two attempts to reach the rebels and get a voice sample from Mr Sharma - to compare with the voice on the leaked tapes - but have been unsuccessful both times.
Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, who has gone "rogue" according to sources within Team Pilot, has also accused his former deputy of being directly involved in the conspiracy.
On Monday the Rajasthan High Court continued hearing a petition filed by Team Pilot against their disqualification for 'anti-party activities".
Top lawyer Harish Salve, representing Team Pilot, said the notice for dissent within the party was a "violation of freedom of speech".
Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi, representing Rajasthan Speaker CP Joshi, said Team Pilot could not move the court before a decision had been taken in the Assembly.
If Team Pilot MLAs are disqualified, it will bring down the majority mark in the Assembly and help Mr Gehlot - he has the support of 102 MLAs, just one more than the majority mark.