Emboldened Congress Taunts Sachin Pilot But Offers Talks: 10 Points

Rajasthan Crisis: Sachin Pilot was sacked as Rajasthan Deputy Chief Minister and removed as state Congress chief on Tuesday.

Rajasthan Government: Two more ministers who joined Sachin Pilot revolt were also dropped

Highlights

  • Differences have emerged in Sachin Pilot's camp, sources said
  • Threat level to Congress government has gone down, said sources
  • Mr Pilot was on Tuesday sacked as Deputy Chief Minister
New Delhi: Hours after rebel Sachin Pilot repeated to the media that he was not joining the BJP, the Congress responded with an invite and a challenge. "Stop accepting the hospitality of the BJP in Haryana immediately, prove your intentions," said the party, referring to rebel MLAs camping at two hotels in Gurugram near Delhi. The Congress has accused the BJP of trying to reel in these MLAs with offers of money and posts. With the rebel squad looking significantly weakened, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot was less restrained than his party as he accused Sachin Pilot of "making deals".

Here's your 10-point cheatsheet to this big story:

  1. "We heard Sachin Pilot's statement on not joining the BJP through the media. If you don't want to go to the BJP, then immediately reject the hospitality of the Haryana BJP government, free our MLAs from the BJP security ring at two hotels. Stop discussions with the BJP," said Congress leader Randeep Surjewala.

  2. But the Congress, while listing ways in which Mr Pilot defied the party, added that family was always welcome. "Come back to the family and return to Jaipur, show your true dedication and commitment," Mr Surjewala said.

  3. But Chief Minister Gehlot went on the offensive, claiming proof of Mr Pilot's role in horse-trading. "We have the proof that horse-trading was being committed. Rs 20 crore was offered. Those who took the money are at the hotel. Our deputy chief minister and PCC (state Congress chief) himself was doing the deal and was giving statements that no horse-trading was taking place. What clarifications are you giving when you yourself were involved in it," Mr Gehlot alleged.

  4. This morning, the rebels were issued notice by the Rajasthan assembly Speaker for "anti-party activities" and were asked to respond by Friday. Mr Pilot was on Tuesday sacked as Deputy Chief Minister and removed as state Congress chief.

  5. Signs of a retreat were seen in Mr Pilot reemphasizing this morning that he is not going to the BJP and remains a Congress man. "I would like to make it clear that I have no plans to join the BJP. The BJP link is an attempt to malign me with the Gandhis," Mr Pilot told NDTV.

  6. Congress sources said Mr Pilot's reiteration has been well-received by the party leadership and it is "not averse" to speaking with him but at an appropriate time. However, a return to Rajasthan may be difficult, sources say, adding that Mr Pilot and the rebels may have to accept some time-out while the party decides how to accommodate them.

  7. The BJP, which has 73 MLAs, needs the support of another 35 to take power in Rajasthan. But after talking of a floor test, the party backed off today. "We do not feel such need (for a floor test) as of now. If we feel the need, the party (BJP) will sit together and make a decision," said Gulab Chand Kataria, Leader of Opposition in Rajasthan.

  8. Chief Minister Gehlot's camp claims he has the support of 106 MLAs, up from yesterday when the Congress appeared to be barely at the half-way mark in the 200-member assembly. Mr Gehlot needs 101 votes to stay in power. Before Sachin Pilot's rebellion, the Congress had the support of 122 MLAs.

  9. Mr Gehlot has sequestered Congress MLAs at a resort where they were taken straight from a show of strength at the Chief Minister's home on Monday. Every Congress MLA has a police escort.

  10. Tense ties between Mr Gehlot and his former deputy exploded on the weekend after Mr Pilot received summons to answer questions in an investigation into alleged attempts to topple his own government by buying MLAs. Mr Gehlot ordered the investigation last month when he raised the allegations during the Rajya Sabha polls.