Ahead of Assembly session, Rajasthan Congress factions inch towards a truce

MLAs loyal to Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot are reportedly willing to attend the session

Updated - August 03, 2020 09:25 pm IST

Published - August 03, 2020 09:19 pm IST - JAIPUR

The Rajasthan Assembly in session. File

The Rajasthan Assembly in session. File

Ahead of the crucial Rajasthan Assembly session beginning on August 14, a compromise between the two rival factions in the ruling Congress seems possible, with both the sides softening their stance on the rebellion staged by the former Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot . The MLAs loyal to Mr. Pilot are reportedly willing to attend the session.

Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, who had earlier used harsh words against Mr. Pilot, has said that if the Congress high command forgave the 19 rebel MLAs, he would also welcome them back in the party fold. The legislators of the Gehlot camp have since been shifted to a resort near Jaisalmer amid speculations that the votes required for proving the government’s majority on the floor of the House might be dwindling.

CM targets BJP

However, Mr. Gehlot has reiterated his charge that the BJP had hatched a conspiracy to topple his government and said the offer of money for luring the MLAs had gone up after the Governor announced the date for convening the Assembly session. The political crisis began last month after he accused Mr. Pilot of being directly involved in the conspiracy with the BJP.

Analysis | Sachin Pilot revolt brings into focus Congress’s leadership battles across States

The recent gestures from the Pilot camp have given indications of a possible compromise within the Congress. Mr. Pilot, who was also removed from the position of the Pradesh Congress Committee president, congratulated his successor, Govind Singh Dotasra, when he took charge on July 29, and hoped that he would give “full respect” to the party workers without any pressure or bias.

Gajendra Singh Shaktawat, one of the MLAs loyal to Mr. Pilot, told The Hindu from an undisclosed location in Haryana on Monday that the dissident legislators would come to Jaipur to attend the Assembly session.

‘Still with party’

“We have never said that we have shifted away from the Congress. We will participate in the House proceedings as Congress MLAs,” he said.

Mr. Shaktawat, elected to the Assembly from Vallabhnagar , said the fight of the legislators supporting Mr. Pilot was that of “self-respect”. Asked about a possible floor test in the Assembly, Mr. Shaktawat said any decision on voting in favour of the Gehlot government would be taken by Mr. Pilot.

Mr. Shaktawat rejected the Chief Minister’s charge that the MLAs supporting Mr. Pilot were in touch with the BJP. “None of us has met with any BJP leader, neither has anyone from the BJP come to meet us. We are staying in Haryana because the COVID-19 epidemic is spreading fast in Delhi,” he said.

The MLA said Mr. Pilot and others were still talking to the Congress leadership and were hopeful for finding a solution. He asked why the MLAs supporting Mr. Gehlot were shifted to Jaisalmer if the government was secure. He also took exception to Mr. Pilot’s “unceremonious removal”, saying it was only within the power of the Governor to sack a Minister.

The dissident legislators run the risk of being disqualified if they defy the party whip to attend the House proceedings. They had earlier twice skipped the Congress Legislature Party meetings held in Jaipur, after which the party filed a complaint with the Assembly Speaker. When the Speaker issued them notices, they went to the High Court which has since ordered a status quo on the disqualification proceedings.

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