Rebel Rajasthan Congress leader Sachin Pilot on Thursday remained cold to the Congress call a day earlier for "Ghar Wapsi." He also showed no inclination to declare truce with chief minister Ashok Gehlot who is openly accusing him of hobnobbing with the BJP.
His old-time friend and former party chief Rahul Gandhi issued a whip stating that Pilot should not be attacked, so that he does not quit the party and can backtrack on his earlier decision.
Pilot, who is camping in Delhi since Saturday, however, did not seek any appointment either with Congress President Sonia Gandhi or Rahul, even though AICC general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and organising general secretary K C Venugopal are in touch with him.
Insiders say his group's strength has swelled to 22, with three more MLAs checking in a private Gurgaon hotel where the other rebels are camping.In fact, on Thursday morning, he moved the Jaipur Bench of the Rajasthan High Court to stall the Chief Minister's attempt to get all 19 MLAs, including Pilot, disqualified as members of the Assembly on the ground of "anti-party activity" and for their reluctance to attend the CLP meeting.
The hearing on the petition is listed on Friday, which is also the deadline set by the Rajasthan Assembly Speaker for the response of the rebel MLAs to the notice served on them under the Anti-Defection Law.Senior advocate Harish Salve, who was engaged by the Pilot faction to secure a stay on the Assembly Speaker’s notice asking rebels to respond by Friday, vetted the petition filed by MLA Prithviraj Meena and others.
Another senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, a former attorney general known for his skill in securing interim orders, has been also engaged by the Pilot group while senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, a Rajya Sabha Congress MP, is appearing for Speaker C P Joshi.The TV media tried to see a BJP connect in Rohatgi being lent to defend Pilot and his motley group. Incidentally, Salve was a solicitor general during the Vajpayee regime from 1999 to 2002.Congress sources said Gehlot has been asked by the party high command to lie low and not attack Pilot any further as it would create impediments in the patch-up efforts.Rahul Gandhi is trying his best to defuse the Rajasthan crisis and persuade his friend Sachin to return to the party.
He has also expressed anguish over Avinash Pande announcing the dissolution of the party apparatus built by Pilot on his own, without any signal from the party leadership.The Congress leaders are so upset that they are tweeting on all other issues, except on the Rajasthan imbroglio. These include Rahul who has opted not to respond to Pilot's tweets. In fact, he has put on hold his novel plan of a video a day from Tuesday to fight the TV channels which are blanking out his statements.