Rajasthan political crisis | Assembly Speaker issues notices to Sachin Pilot, 18 others

The ruling Congress sought their disqualification from the Assembly for ‘anti-party activities’

July 15, 2020 01:00 pm | Updated December 04, 2021 11:50 pm IST - JAIPUR:

A notice from the Rajasthan Assembly Speaker is pasted at the official residence of Sachin Pilot loyalist and Viratnagar MLA Indraj Gujjar in Jaipur on July 15, 2020.

A notice from the Rajasthan Assembly Speaker is pasted at the official residence of Sachin Pilot loyalist and Viratnagar MLA Indraj Gujjar in Jaipur on July 15, 2020.

Despite rebel Congress leader Sachin Pilot declaring that he would not join the BJP , Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot on Wednesday talked tough and accused him of being involved in horse-trading in league with the BJP. Mr. Gehlot alleged that his former deputy was himself “doing the deal” as part of a conspiracy to pull down the Congress government.

Speaker C.P. Joshi issued notices to Mr. Pilot and 18 other dissident Congress MLAs after the ruling party sought their disqualification.

 

Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala, however, extended the olive branch , calling upon Mr. Pilot and his supporters to return to Jaipur from a resort in BJP-ruled Haryana.

Interacting with mediapersons outside a hotel near Jaipur, where the Congress and the Independent MLAs supporting the government were staying, Mr. Gehlot launched a scathing attack on Mr. Pilot. 

He said the rebel leader, who was ousted as the PCC president, was hobnobbing with BJP leaders, offering money to legislators to topple his government.

“After doing the deal, our former PCC chief gave statements that no horse-trading was taking place. What clarifications were you giving when you yourself were involved in it?” Mr. Gehlot said.

 

In a personal attack on the 42-year-old leader, who was sacked both as the Deputy CM and PCC president, Mr. Gehlot said speaking good English, giving good television bytes and being handsome was not everything in politics. “What is inside your heart for the country, your ideology, policies and commitment... Everything is considered,” the veteran Congress leader said.

“A knife made of gold is not for use on a plate for eating. Do you get my drift?” Mr. Gehlot told reporter. 

He said the Congress had proof of the BJP’s attempts at horse-trading in Rajasthan during the Rajya Sabha elections, because of which the ruling party’s legislators had to be kept at a hotel for 10 days.

“If we had not done that [last month], the same thing which is happening in Manesar now would have happened back then,” Mr. Gehlot said in an apparent reference to the MLAs owing allegiance to the Pilot camp being holed up at a resort in Haryana's town near Delhi.

The Chief Minister said senior Congress leaders liked the new generation, as the future would be theirs, but added that young leaders should toil to make a mark for themselves. “I have been in politics for 40 years. The young people, who become Union Ministers and State party presidents, would have understood all this if they had gone through what we did in our time.”

 

Mr. Surjewala later asked Mr. Pilot and his supporters to stop accepting the hospitality of Manohar Lal Khattar government and come back to the Rajasthan capital. 

“Congress has already expressed willingness to resolve all issues with Mr. Pilot. Since he has ruled out joining the BJP, he should stop speaking through media and come here as a member of the Congress family,” Mr Surjewala said.

In a conciliatory note, Mr. Surjewala said the Congress had given “so much” to Mr. Pilot in his young age and there was no political personality in any party to be promoted in this manner. “Please discontinue your interactions with the BJP leaders in Haryana. They want to trap you,” he implored.

Mr Surjewala’s second press meeting was apparently prompted by the fact that Mr. Gehlot’s remarks had not gone down well with the party’s central leaders and some of them, especially Rahul Gandhi, had voiced their reservations at the tone and tenor of the Chief Minister's barbs.

The notices issued by the Assembly Speaker have given time till Friday to 19 MLAs, including Mr. Pilot and former Ministers Vishvendra Singh and Ramesh Meena, to respond. The disqualification petitions were filed by Congress Chief Whip Mahesh Joshi, citing the legislators’ absence from successive Congress Legislature Party (CLP) meetings and the conspiracy to bring down the government as the grounds for their elimination from membership of the House.

The petitions stated that the MLAs’ conduct had shown that they had “voluntarily given up membership” of Congress, warranting their disqualification under Tenth Schedule of the Constitution. The notices, stating that the matter would be heard ex parte if no submissions were received, were sent to the emails and mobile phones of the MLAs and also pasted on the walls at their residences. 

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