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Rajasthan political crisis | Congress keeps channels open with Sachin Pilot

Security personnel stand guard outside a hotel where Congress leaders and MLA are staying in Jaipur on July 16, 2020.

Security personnel stand guard outside a hotel where Congress leaders and MLA are staying in Jaipur on July 16, 2020.   | Photo Credit: PTI

Rebel Congress leader Sachin Pilot may have moved the Rajasthan High Court, but Congress president Sonia Gandhi has an open mind about accommodating him, a Congress leader told The Hindu on Thursday.

The same source claimed that former Finance Minister P. Chidamabaram and Mr. Pilot had a conversation over phone, where the former Finance Minister is reported to have asked Mr. Pilot to “seize the opportunity and discuss all issues”.

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The Congress is said to have made it clear to Mr. Pilot that his rebellion would be treated as a “closed chapter” and the legal challenge to the Speaker’s notice as a ‘technicality’ if he returns to the party fold.

“There would be no restoring status quo ante but he could be accommodated later on if he returns and stops hobnobbing with the BJP,” said the Congress source.

“From the choice of the lawyers who are defending him and his supporters, it is clear where his affiliations lie now,” he said.

Worried about bad optics, especially after the high-profile desertion of Jyotiraditya Scindia in March, the Congress party has gone on overdrive to stop Mr. Pilot.

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Apart from Priyanka Gandhi Vadra speaking to the rebel Congress leader on Wednesday, senior leaders Ahmed Patel and K.C. Venugopal have been in touch with him to persuade.

Despite Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot publicly attacking his former deputy as conniving with the BJP to topple his government, the Central leadership has not snapped the communication lines with Mr. Pilot.

“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 told the reporters in Jaipur on Wednesday and added that speaking good English, giving good television bytes and being handsome was not everything in politics.

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Annonyed by the tone and tenor of Mr. Gehlot, former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi asked party’s communication chief Randeep Surjewala to hold another press conference to allow Mr. Pilot a “dignified option” of staying in the Congress.

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“The 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 at the press conference hours after Mr. Gehlot’s outburst.

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Printable version | Aug 11, 2020 5:17:17 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/rajasthan-political-crisis-congress-keeps-channels-open-with-sachin-pilot/article32106897.ece

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