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Congress announces truce in Rajasthan after Pilot meets Rahul, Priyanka

Rebel Congress leader Sachin Pilot leaves after meeting with party leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, in New Delhi on August 10, 2020.

Rebel Congress leader Sachin Pilot leaves after meeting with party leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, in New Delhi on August 10, 2020.   | Photo Credit: PTI

The All India Congress Committee (AICC) on Monday announced the setting up of a three-member committee to address the issue of dissident MLAs in Rajasthan.

The decision came after rebel party leader Sachin Pilot held discussions with former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi and party general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra in a meeting that stretched over two-and--half hours.

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

The meeting, the first between Mr Gandhi and Mr. Pilot since the Rajasthan crisis erupted in early July, came just fours days ahead of the crucial August 14 session of the State Assembly. Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot is expected to prove his majority on the floor of the House during the session.

The Congress now expects to sail through a confidence vote if it is held when the Assembly meets on Friday.

Also read: Rajasthan political crisis | In u-turn, Ashok Gehlot now ready to accept rebels

Later on Monday evening, Mr Pilot and his supporters met Ms. Vadra, senior leader Ahmed Patel and General Secretary (Organisation) K.C. Venugopal.

“We had some issues that we wanted to highlighted. I raised some issues, be it the notice from Special Operations Group or the style of functioning and I have been saying from the beginning that the issues are based on principles and we raised them before the party,” Mr. Pilot told reporters after the meeting.

Also read: Rajasthan political crisis | Ready for floor test, says Ashok Gehlot

“During this entire episode, lots of things were said about us and I was also surprised to hear some personal comments. We should exercise restraint as there is no place for personal attacks in politics. All of us worked hard for five years to form the government and all of us are stakeholders… We are happy to be be assured that all the issues would be addressed in a time bound manner,” he added.

Denying that he had ever acted against the Congress, Mr Pilot said, “If the party can give us post, it can also take it away.” He added that he has never hankered after any post.

Also read: Rajasthan political crisis | Governor’s nod for Assembly session, but with riders

Though Mr Pilot didn’t make a public comment on the understanding reached between him and the party leadership, two MLAs close to him spoke to The Hindu and claimed that Monday’s meeting addressed all the grievances and he is expected to proceed to Jaipur for the Assembly session.

The MLAs contended that Mr. Pilot would be “given his due including the Chief Minister’s post in the future” even though he will not get any party or government position immediately.

Also read: Rajasthan political crisis | Why vote of confidence in Assembly needed if govt. enjoys majority, asks Kalraj Mishra

The Congress party’s formal statement, however, only said: “Sachin Pilot has met with former Congress President Rahul Gandhi and expressed his grievances in detail. Mr Pilot has committed to working in the interest of the Congress party and the Congress government in Rajasthan.”

“Following this meeting, Congress president Sonia Gandhi has decided that the AICC will constitute a three-member committee to address the issues raised by Mr Pilot and the aggrieved MLAs and arrive at an appropriate resolution,” party general secretary (organisation) K.C. Venugopal said.

Also read: Rajasthan political crisis | Ashok Gehlot to make fresh push for Assembly session amid face-off

Congress president Sonia Gandhi is also learnt to have spoke to Mr Gehlot on phone in the past two days to seal the peace deal between the two rivals camps.

Mr Venugopal, who was in Jaisalmer last week, rushed back to Delhi on Saturday to coordinate the meeting between Mr. Pilot and Mr. Gandhi that took place at the latter’s official residence, 12 Tughlak Lane.

Multiple sources said the meeting was the outcome of several rounds of back channel talks between senior leaders including Ms. Vadra, Ahmed Patel and Mr. Venugopal.

Sources said the turning point in the Rajasthan rebellion came when one of the rebel MLAs, Bhanwar Lal Sharma, met Mr Venugopal on Sunday and pledged his support to the Gehlot government.

He is also supposed to have conveyed the support of more MLAs to the Congress leadership.

“Sachin had no other option as there was growing restlessness among his MLAs to end the stalemate,” a senior leader said, who also pointed that Mr. Sharma met Mr. Gehlot at his residence in Jaipur on Monday evening.

Amidst a fragile truce, a source close to Mr Pilot told this reporter that “he would not be heading with just the announcement of a committee”.

Other sources said that some of his supporters were likely to be accommodated in a ministerial reshuffle or in the existing vacancies to the government corporations.

The Pilot camp has also demanded a change in AICC officer bearers including the general secretary.

The Gehlot camp, on the other hand, is strongly opposed to any sops being given to Mr Pilot’s supporters.

On Sunday, Mr Gehlot, too, had reached out to dissident MLAs by writing an open letter in which he asked MLAs “to stand with the truth and honour the mandate of the people.”

In the 200-member Rajasthan Assembly, the Congress had had 107 MLAs including the six former Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) who had merged with the Congress.

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Printable version | Sep 28, 2020 5:30:02 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/sachin-pilot-meets-rahul-gandhi-priyanka-gandhi-vadra-ahead-of-rajasthan-assembly-session/article32316355.ece

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