2 Ashok Gehlot Aides Raided In Jaipur Amid Rajasthan Congress Turmoil

Rajasthan Crisis: In a display of show of strength, Ashok Gehlot held a meeting of MLAs.

Tax raids were conducted at the Jaipur homes of Ashok Gehlot's aides.

Jaipur/ New Delhi:

Amid crisis brewing in Rajasthan after Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot's open revolt against the Congress, two of Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot's aides were raided this morning.

Rajiv Arora, vice president of the party's Rajasthan unit, and Dharmendra Rathore were raided hours after the ruling Congress denied any threat to its government in a late-night press briefing.

Five premises linked to the two leaders were raided in Jaipur and Kota over allegations of "tax evasion", officials at the Income Tax Department told NDTV.

Hitting out the BJP over the raids, Congress leader Randeep Surjewala this afternoon said: "I-T (Income Tax Department), ED (Enforcement Directorate), and the CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) are the BJP's frontal departments... their raids cannot topple Rajasthan government." 

Rajasthan government chief whip Mahesh Joshi said the raids are "uncalled for". "I condemn this. The raids are uncalled for and intended at threatening but we are not going to be distracted or scared by this," he was quoted by saying by news agency PTI.

"Entire country is watching this," Mr Joshi added.

Over 80 officers are a part of massive raids launched early this morning in four cities - Delhi, Jaipur, Mumbai and Kota - over alleged evasion of tax. "The department initiated action on the basis of inputs of huge cash transactions taking place and the alleged links of different business groups to these transactions," officials said.

Sachin Pilot had had set his party up for another state collapse on Sunday just three months after the Congress lost Madhya Pradesh to the BJP. Mr Pilot, who is camping in Delhi, claims the support of 30 MLAs.

This morning, the 42-year-old leader said that he is "not joining the BJP" amid reports that he was likely to meet BJP chief JP Nadda.

But he had earlier also refused to attend a key meeting of Congress MLAs called by Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot today, being viewed as a show of strength.

The Congress at a press conference at 2:30 am - said that 109 MLAs in the 200-member state assembly have expressed their trust in the Rajasthan government led by Mr Gehlot.

After nearly two years of a simmering feud with Ashok Gehlot, the tipping point for Sachin Pilot came after he was summoned for questioning in an investigation into an alleged attempt to destabilise the state government ahead of the Rajya Sabha elections.

"Nobody wants to leave his home, but can't continue to put up with this kind of humiliation; my MLAs and supporters are extremely hurt and I will have to listen to them," Sachin Pilot told senior journalist and political analyst Javed Ansari on Sunday.

The summon was based on what the police say were tapped phone conversations of two BJP members arrested on Friday.

Chief Minister Gehlot tried to downplay the summons by the Special Operations Group, saying he, too, had received it.

(With inputs from PTI)