The political crisis in Rajasthan took a dramatic turn on Tuesday with the Congress sacking rebel leader Sachin Pilot both as the Deputy Chief Minister of Rajasthan as well as Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) president.
The party also accused him of colluding with the Opposition BJP in its conspiracy to topple the State government. Two Ministers in the rebel camp were also dropped from the State Cabinet.
Here are the latest updates:
Sad to see Pilot 'leave' Congress: Tharoor
Senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor on Tuesday said he was sad to see Sachin Pilot “leave” the Congress and asserted that instead of “parting”, the former Rajasthan deputy chief minister should have joined the effort to make the party a more effective instrument for “his and our dreams”.
However, when asked on Twitter whether Pilot had left the party, Mr. Tharoor said, “Not formally. I certainly hope that reconciliation is still possible. The events of the last few days led me to draw an obvious inference.”
“If he returns to the fold & works for a revived &reformed @incIndia, he would be more than welcome,” the MP from Thiruvananthapuram said.
Responding to the developments, Mr. Tharoor tweeted, “I am sad to see @SachinPilot leave @INCIndia.”
“I consider him one of our best & brightest, and wish it had not come to this. Instead of parting, he should have joined the effort to make the Party a better & more effective instrument for his, and our, dreams.”
Did nothing wrong, say sacked Congress MLAs
Sacked from the Rajasthan Cabinet for backing dissident leader Sachin Pilot, Congress MLAs Vishvendra Singh and Ramesh Meena insisted that they had done nothing wrong.
“Where did we make any statement against the party? We wanted to draw the attention of the party high-command to the fact that we were not able to deliver on things promised in the manifesto for which the public elected us,” Vishvendra Singh said in a video message.
“I have no concern for being sacked as a Minister. Rather, I will be able to serve people better but what reply the chief minister has for people who elected us and the party,” he said.
Mr. Ramesh Meena said, “Our department was top in performance. Union minister Ram Vilas Paswan and the prime minister appreciated that. I worked with honesty and the result is that I am sacked, he said in a video message. What irregularity did I do.”
Mr. Ramesh Meena said he had some resentment and issues related to the SC/ST community which he had raised on the party forum.
Two other MLAs loyal to Mr. Pilot — Mukesh Bhakar and Ramniwas Gawriya — also reacted sharply to the development.
Mr. Bhakar, who was removed from the post of the state Youth Congress president, said he became the chief of the body after winning its elections. “Who is Ashok Gehlot to remove me,” he said in a tweet.
Mr. Gawriya tweeted that the youth led by Rajasthan’s Pilot will end the suppression of Jadugar.
Mr. Gehlot, whose father was a magician, is referred to as Jadugar. — PTI
Party’s doors are open for those who express trust in its ideology: BJP leaders
“If anybody with a mass base joins the BJP or any political party, everybody welcomes him. Expressing trust in our ideology, if anybody joins us we will welcome him with open arms. This is a normal procedure,” Union Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat told reporters here.
“So many people joining Sachin is a big thing, and I believe more will join him. BJP’s doors are open for everybody if he believes in our ideology. If Sachin Pilot joins us, I don’t think there will be any problem. Our national leadership, though, will take the final call,” BJP leader P.P. Chaudhary said.
“Dear Ashok Gehlot, closing your eyes does not make the sun disappear. There is weakness in the structure of your house, and you are blaming the BJP national leadership for this,” BJP vice president Om Prakash Mathur, who is a senior party leader from the State, said.
Another BJP vice president Baijayant Jay Panda, who is also a party spokesperson, set tongues wagging with his tweet, “In aviation, every flight plan includes an alternate airport or airstrip to divert to in the event of technical problems or severe bad weather. Every experienced pilot knows this.” — PTI
Rajasthan Ministry meets after party sacks Pilot, his loyalists
Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and other Ministers reached the CM’s residence on July 14 evening for a Cabinet meeting, hours after the ruling Congress sacked Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot and two others from the Cabinet.
Mr. Gehlot and the other Ministers arrived there from the hotel where they were holed up amid the power tussle between Mr. Gehlot and Mr. Pilot.
The Congress Legislature Party (CLP) decided in the afternoon to sack Mr. Pilot and two of his loyalists, Vishvendra Singh and Ramesh Meena, from the Cabinet.
Mr. Pilot was also removed as the president of the State Congress unit after he and MLAs close to him skipped two CLP meetings, where party legislators expressed confidence in Gehlot’s leadership.
The Cabinet meeting will be followed by another of the Council of Ministers.
After the sacking of the three Ministers, the 12 senior Ministers, including the CM, remain in the Cabinet. The Council of Ministers has 10 Ministers of State.
Heartful thanks: Sachin Pilot
Meanwhile, Sachin Pilot tweets: “My heartfelt thanks and gratitude to all those who have come out in my support today.”
Gajendra Singh Shekhawat hints at Sachin Pilot’s entry into BJP
Speaking to the media, the Union Jal Shakthi Minister said “Any leader with a mass base who wishes to join the BJP should be welcomed.”
Senior party leader and Rajya Sabha MP Om Mathur had already left for Jaipur amid the unfolding drama after a second meeting of the Congress Legislature Party.
Mr. Shekhawat refuted allegations that the BJP had done anything to fuel infighting in the Congress in the State. “There is a trend in Bollywood that is now being seen in Congress — that when the producer, director, actors, technicians — find that their film is going to flop they try to float propaganda to distract from this failure. The Ashok Gehlot government has done the same,” he said. — Nistula Hebbar
Govind Singh Dotasara: Once a practising lawyer, now Rajasthan Congress chief
Once a practising lawyer, Rajasthan Education Minister Govind Singh Dotasara’s elevation to the post of the state Congress chief came almost 15 years after he contested his first election to become a member of a panchayat samiti in the State.
Born on October 1, 1964 in Kriparam ji ki Dhani in Lakshmangarh of Sikar district, 55-year-old Dotasara had started his career at the grass-roots level in the party while working as a lawyer.
The three-time Congress MLA had contested the Lakshmanagarh pachayat samiti in 2005 before being given the party ticket for the assembly elections three years later.
On July 14, he was made the State Congress president after the removal of Sachin Pilot from the post following accusations that he tried to topple the Congress government in the State as part of a “BJP conspiracy”.
Earlier, he held the post of the Sikar district Congress president for seven years. He also worked for the Youth Congress.
In 2008, Mr. Dotasara for the first time got the party ticket to contest the assembly elections from the Lakshmangarh constituency, from where he won by a slim margin.
Since 2008, he has been continuously winning Assembly elections. He was made the State’s Education Minister after the party’s victory in the 2018 Assembly polls.
Earlier, he held the post of the Deputy Chief Whip of the Congress in the 14th Rajasthan Assembly.
Mr. Dotasara has completed B.Com. and then L.L.B. from Rajasthan University. He practised in a Sikar court for almost two decades.
He was married to Sunita Devi on March 4, 1984 and has two sons. His wife is a government schoolteacher. — PTI
Congress loses a stalwart with huge potential in Pilot: Priya Dutt
Former MP Priya Dutt said it was “unfortunate” the party has lost stalwart young leaders with great potential like him and Jyotiraditya Scindia.
“Another friend leaves the party both Sachin and Jyotirajya were colleagues & good friends unfortunately our party has lost 2 stalwart young leaders with great potential.
“I don’t believe being ambitious is wrong. They have worked hard through the most difficult times,” the former MP from Mumbai tweeted. — PTI
Young leaders must not be neglected, says Sumitra Mahajan
Queried on the turn of events in Rajasthan, BJP leader and former Lok Sabha speaker Sumitra Mahajan said, “There is an internal battle [in the Congress] going on in Rajasthan. But the time has come that there should be no neglect of youth leadership [in politics]. BJP, in a way, has started thinking that young leaders should not be ignored. The young should also get a chance to show their abilities in politics.”
Ms. Mahajan, a former MP from Indore who did not contest the 2019 Lok Sabha polls as she had crossed 75 years of age, did not give a direct comment on the Rajasthan crisis claiming it was Congress’ “internal problem”. — PTI
Kept like ‘hostage’, alleges Rajasthan MLA in video
Two video clips of Rajasthan’s Bharatiya Tribal Party MLA Rajkumar Roat surfaced on social media with the leader claiming in one of these that he has been kept like a “hostage” and not allowed to go to his constituency.
The videos are shot in a car with the MLA occupying the front seat. One of these is purportedly shot by the MLA himself. It is not clear when the videos were shot.
In the video uploaded on social media in the evening, a police inspector is seen taking away keys of his car, with a constable saying “there is a threat”.
In one of the video clips that surfaced earlier in the day, the Chorasi MLA, while referring to the current political crisis in the state, was heard saying that he has been kept like a hostage.
The video was uploaded on rebel Congress leader Sachin Pilot’s official WhatsApp group.
Mr. Roat said he has been at the MLA quarters in Jaipur for the past three days where many asked him to come along .
The MLA said when he tried to leave for his constituency, three to four police vehicles came there and did not let him go.
He is seen alleging that police vehicles surrounded his car and his keys were taken away from him.
The MLA also showed two police vehicles parked around his car.
The Congress has counted both BTP MLAs as supporters of the Ashok Gehlot government.
They had voted for Congress candidates in the Rajya Sabha elections last month but their party issued a whip on July 13, directing them to remain neutral and not vote for the BJP or the Congress in case of a floor test in the assembly.
Mr. Roat has switched off his mobile phone. — PTI
Gehlot to hold Cabinet meeting today
Amid the possibility of a reshuffle in ministerial berths, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot has convened a Cabinet meeting on July 14 evening.
The Cabinet meeting has been slated to be held at 7.30 p.m., said party sources.
After the Cabinet meeting, another meeting of the entire Council of Ministers, including the Ministers of State, too will take place at 8 p.m. at the Chief Minister’s residence, they added.
Gehlot should take floor test, demands BJP
As the ruling Congress in Rajasthan grapples with a rebellion led by Sachin Pilot, the BJP demanded that Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot take a floor test to prove his government’s majority in the Assembly.
The party also alleged that the residences of MLAs were being kept under police surveillance and the legislators of Bhartiya Tribal Party (BTP) “had been threatened”.
The BTP, which has two MLAs in the Rajasthan assembly, has asked its legislators to remain neutral. It was earlier supporting the Gehlot government.
Prove majority in a floor test first and then go for a cabinet reshuffle. The result of the political fight is out, Leader of Opposition Gulab Chand Kataria told reporters.
Deputy Leader of Opposition Rajendra Rathore claimed that Ashok Gehlot government will not be able to prove its majority in a floor test.
BJP State president Satish Poonia said that the State government has lost the confidence of the people and it was time for its departure.
“The government has failed to deliver on its promises and failed to perform. We are keeping a watch on the situation and will follow the direction of the party leadership,” he said.
The party held a meeting of senior leaders to discuss the situation. Nagaur MP Hanuman Beniwal and convenor of Rashtriya Loktantrik Party, which is BJP’s ally, was also present. — PTI
Police force across Rajasthan alerted to ensure peace, maintain law and order
Police personnel across the Rajasthan have been alerted to maintain peace in their jurisdiction amid the political crisis in the state, an official said.
Following intelligence inputs and political happenings, police force across the state has been alerted to ensure peace and maintain law and order situation,” ADG (Law and Order) Saurabh Srivastava said.
He said that police force has been asked to keep a vigil so that common people do not have to suffer. - PTI
No one can take away the fact that Sachin worked with dedication for Congress: Jitin Prasada
No one can take away the fact that Sachin Pilot has long worked with dedication for the Congress, party leader Jitin Prasada said.
Mr. Prasada, considered a leader of the party’s ‘young brigade’, also expressed the hope that the situation can be salvaged.
“Sachin Pilot is not just a colleague but my friend. No one can take away the fact that all these years he has worked with dedication for the party,” Mr. Prasada tweeted adding that “Sincerely hope the situation can still be salvaged. Sad it has come to this.”
Pilot playing into the hands of BJP: Gehlot
Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot accused rebel leader Sachin Pilot of playing into the hands of the BJP.
He alleged that that the BJP wanted to repeat what it had done in Madhya Pradesh. But the BJP’s intentions will not fructify in Rajasthan, Mr. Gehlot said.
The chief minister said that Mr. Pilot and other ministers as well as MLAs were given ample opportunities but they did not attend the Congress Legislature Party meeting on Monday and Tuesday.
“There is nothing in the hands of Sachin Pilot. He is playing into the hands of the BJP which is making all the arrangements, he told reporters after meeting Governor Kalraj Mishra.
Mr. Gehlot met the Governor immediately after the Congress Legislature Party meeting where the decision to remove the three ministers was taken.
Truth can be rattled, not defeated: Pilot
Soon after his removal as Rajasthan deputy chief minister, rebel Congress leader Sachin Pilot said “truth can be rattled, not defeated“.
“Truth can be rattled, not defeated,” he said in a tweet in Hindi.
He also changed his profile on Twitter deleting all references to his position as deputy CM and Rajasthan Congress chief.
He only described himself as MLA of Tonk and a former Minister of IT, Telecom & Corporate affairs, Government of India.
Sachin Pilot sacked
Rebel leader Sachin Pilot has been removed from the State Cabinet as well as Pradesh Congress Committee president post. The decision was taken in the CLP meet.
Two Cabinet Ministers, Vishvendra Singh and Ramesh Meena, were also dropped from the Rajasthan Cabinet.
The announcement was made by Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala in Jaipur after the CLP meeting.
Minister of State for Education Govind Singh Dotasra will be the new Rajasthan PCC president, Mr. Surjewala said.
Mr. Surjewala said Mr. Pilot enjoyed the affection and blessings of Congress president Sonia Gandhi and was given political power at a young age. Yet, he and other ministers were trying to topple the state government as part of a BJP conspiracy, he added.
- Mohammad Iqbal
Rajasthan BJP leaders discuss Congress crisis
Amid the ongoing political crisis in Rajasthan, opposition BJP leaders met to discuss the current situation in the state.
A meeting has started at the BJP state office here in which party national joint general secretary V Satish, BJP state president Satish Poonia, leader of opposition Gulab Chand Kataria and deputy leader of opposition Rajendra Rathore are present. - PTI
The Congress leaders from the Pilot camp released a statement saying they stand by "their leader".
State Ministers Vishvender Singh and Ramesh Meena, and former Speaker Deepender Shekhawat said Mr. Pilot was "publicly humiliated".
Here is the full text of their statement
We have for years worked with dedication, devotion and service towards the party. And we are taking a stand to protect our dignity and self respect at a time when our leader is threatened with notices from the SOG under the charges of sedition and criminal conspiracy. This is unprecedented in Indian democracy and the Congress party, for whom we have toiled with sweat and blood. Under the leadership of Shri Sachin Pilot we have made every effort in the past 6 years to strengthen the party and bring it to power in Rajasthan at a time when it had been reduced to an insignificant number in the state assembly. Public humiliation of our leader Mr. Pilot is something that is totally unacceptable to us, and those responsible for meeting out this treatment need to be made accountable. We are seeking to restore our self respect and are not clamouring for any posts and positions contrary to false reports in the media. We have been senior members of the party for many years and have held many positions within the party and government and are not lured by inducements.
Pilot-loyalist MLAs demand floor test in Rajasthan Assembly
Amid the political crisis in Rajasthan, the demand for a floor test by the members of the Sachin Pilot camp has gained momentum, with state Food and Civil Supply Minister Ramesh Meena saying this will make it clear how many MLAs are with the Ashok Gehlot government.
Mr. Meena had skipped the CLP meets on both the days.
Congress MLA Deependra Singh Shekhawat too had raised the same demanded on Monday. - PTI
BJP wary after Maharashtra experience
The crisis in the Congress-led government in Rajasthan may have been compared to the situation that brought down the party’s government in Madhya Pradesh, with infighting between leaders and the high command’s failure to arrest it but for the BJP, the Rajasthan crisis is one where lessons learnt after the Maharashtra elections came in handy.
According to senior party sources, the debacle of government formation in Maharashtra, with current Finance Minister Ajit Pawar unable to back up his claim on numbers and the party’s humiliating retreat, has made the BJP tread with caution in dealing with Rajasthan Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot.
“Whereas any party would want a government in Rajasthan, we were not very sure of the numbers,” a senior party leader said. - Nistula Hebbar
Congress fault lines run across States
The open revolt in the Congress by Rajasthan Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot, barely four months after Madhya Pradesh leader Jyotiraditya Scindia quit the party and joined the BJP, has once again brought into focus the Congress’s leadership battles across multiple States.
From Punjab to Haryana and Himachal Pradesh to Chhattisgarh, there is simmering discontent among leaders who are ready to challenge the State-level leadership, threatening to split the party. But the “high command” weakened by successive Lok Sabha election losses has failed to act decisively.
In Punjab, while Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh is facing almost a daily challenge from former State unit chief Partap Singh Bajwa, who often takes to social media to register his protests, cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu has almost gone into political hibernation.
Now, reports suggest Mr. Bajwa and Mr. Sidhu are coming together to take on the Chief Minister. And ironically, much like Mr. Scindia and Mr. Pilot, both leaders are considered to be close to former party chief Rahul Gandhi and his sister, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra.
In Haryana, the fight-to-the-finish turf war between former Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda and the State unit’s former chief, Ashok Tanwar, resulted in Mr. Tanwar’s exit just ahead of the Assembly polls last October.
Though the party brought in Kumari Selja in an effort to balance different factions, Mr. Hooda continues to tower over all other groups within the party.
It was clearly evident this March when the Congress leadership had to accept Mr. Hooda’s son, Deepender, as the party’s nominee in the Rajya Sabha election from Haryana over Mr. Gandhi’s preference, Randeep Surjewala.
Himachal Pradesh is witnessing a triangular contest among former Chief Minister Vir Bhadra Singh, Kaul Singh and current State Congress chief Kuldeep Singh Rathore.
In Chhattisgarh too, there is constant talk of intense rivalry between Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel and Health Minister T.S. Singh Deo. - Sandeep Phukan
Pilot-led camp releases video showing 16 MLAs sitting together
In a show of strength, Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot-led Rajasthan Congress camp on Monday released a video showing at least 16 MLAs sitting together.
This comes hours after the Congress held a legislature party meeting. Party leaders said 106 of 122 MLAs attended, a claim contested by the Pilot camp.
The 10-second video was shared late at night on Mr. Pilot’s official WhatsApp group.
Tourism Minister Vishvendra Singh tweeted the video with the caption “Family“.
The Congress Legislature Party meeting starts at Fairmont Hotel on the outskirts of Jaipur, where the Congress MLAs are staying. - Mohammad Iqbal
BTP asks MLAs to be neutral, neither support Gehlot nor Pilot
The Bhartiya Tribal Party (BTP), which has two MLAs in the Rajasthan assembly, has asked its legislators to remain neutral and not align either with Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot or his deputy Sachin Pilot.
The BTP has also asked its MLAs neither to align with the Congress nor the BJP during the ongoing political crisis in the state.
It may be noted that both the BTP MLAs were present at the CLP meet at Mr. Gehlot's residence on Monday. - PTI
Sena targets BJP over political storm in Rajasthan
Attacking the BJP over the political crisis in Rajasthan, Congress-ally Shiv Sena accused the NDA constituent of working to destabilise governments of its opponents. An editorial in Sena mouthpiece ‘Saamana’ asked the BJP what is it going to achieve with this political misadventure in the “desert”, and said such moves will turn the country’s parliamentary democracy into a desert.
The country is facing problems like a coronavirus- triggered collapse of the economy and Chinese intrusion in Ladakh. The killings of 20 Indian soldiers in a face-off with Chinese troops in Galwan Valley is still afresh. Instead of solving these issues, the BJP is interfering in the internal bickering of the Congress and “encouraging horse-trading” in Rajasthan, the editorial said. - PTI
Avinash Pande's appeal to Sachin Pilot
AICC general secretary and Rajasthan in-charge Avinash Pande has appealed to Sachin Pilot and MLAs supporting him to attend today's CLP meeting.
In a tweet in Hindi tagging Mr. Pilot, Mr. Pande requested Mr. Pilot to repose faith in the ideology and values of the Congress, and strengthen the hands of Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi.
Gehlot meets Congress emissaries
Before the scheduled CLP meeting, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot discusses the political situation with senior leaders Avinash Pande, Ajay Maken, Randeep Surjewala and some of his Cabinet colleagues at a high-level meeting.
Mr. Pande, along with Mr. Maken and Mr. Surjewala, has been camping in Jaipur for the past two days after being deputed by the party to make attempts to resolve the issues.
The CLP meet is scheduled to happen at 11 am. - Mohammad Iqbal
The breaking point
The power struggle between Mr. Gehlot and his deputy had been going on for quite some time but the latest flash point was triggered by a notice from the Special Operations Group (SOG) of Rajasthan police to the Deputy Chief Minister.
The SOG had sought time from Mr. Pilot to record his statement in a case of conspiracy and sedition registered after attempts were allegedly made by the BJP to bribe Congress MLAs to switch sides during last month's Rajya Sabha elections.
But Mr. Gehlot, on Twitter, had pointed out that the notice was misinterpreted as a similar notice was sent to the Chief Minister as well as the Congress had lodged a criminal complaint about attempted poaching.
Sachin Pilot, supporters unlikely attend the second CLP meet
As the Congress convened a second round of meetings with its legislators in Jaipur on Tuesday, Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot and his supporters will not attend.
Amid reports of the party's top leadership trying to placate Mr. Pilot, a source close to him denied that "any serious attempt was made to resolve the differences".
The same source also denied that the Pilot camp was keen on having key ministries like Home and Finance and insisted that the issue was one of "leadership and humiliation to Mr. Pilot" who continues to head the Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) until now. - Sandeep Phukan
What does Pilot camp want?
Congress sources claimed that the group supporting the Deputy Chief Minister wanted the party to retain Mr. Pilot as Rajasthan Congress chief.
The sources also claimed that also on the table were demands to make four MLAs, supporting Mr. Pilot, Ministers in the Ashok Gehlot Cabinet as well as have a say in deciding 50% of the candidates in the upcoming Panchayat polls in the State.
Mr. Pilot, so far, has not issued any public statement and also did not respond to The Hindu ’s attempt to reach him for his comments. - Sandeep Phukan
The story so far
The friction between Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and his deputy Sachin Pilot is no secret. The latest in the series of tussles unfolded on Saturday when Mr. Gehlot blamed the opposition BJP of trying to topple his government by offering money to Congress MLAs, a charge the BJP vehemently denied.
Amid the war of words between Mr. Gehlot and the BJP leaders, the State Congress chief was unusually silent. He went incommunicado and along with a bunch of MLAs supporting him.
As the Congress high command tried to reach out a compromise between the two leaders, Mr. Gehlot conducted a CLP meet at his residence in Jaipur on Monday. Mr. Pilot was a notable absentee. Mr. Gehlot claimed he has the support of over 100 MLAs in the 200-seated Rajasthan Assembly.
Soon after the CLP meet, the MLAs, including some Independents, were lodged at a luxury resort.
In the meantime, the income tax department conducted searches at multiple locations in Delhi, Mumbai, Jaipur and Kota, of which some were allegedly linked to two Congress leaders from Rajasthan.
Amid the political turmoil, the premises of Rajiv Arora, vice-president of the State Congress and founder of a jewellery house, and another party leader Dharmendra Rathore were allegedly searched in Rajasthan.