Rajasthan: Ajay Maken's initiative to call truce between Gehlot, Pilot factions

Jaipur: Congress' General Secretary in-charge of Rajasthan, Ajay Maken, has taken a big initiative to bring about a thaw in the cold war between chief minister Ashok Gehlot and former deputy chief minister Sachin Pilot.

On directions of Maken, chief whip Mahesh Joshi is going to take back the SLP that he has filed in the supreme court against Pilot and 19 MLAs who supported him during the rebellion against the state leadership last year.

The move comes 10 days after former Congress president Rahul Gandhi's visit to Rajasthan when strained ties between the two factions were visible.

Maken had called Joshi to Delhi on Monday and discussed the matter with him. After their deliberations, it was decided to take back the SLP.

Maken then discussed the issue with Congress president Sonia Gandhi, former party president Rahul Gandhi and chief minister Ashok Gehlot. After a go-ahead from the party high command, Joshi began the process of taking back the petition and has through his lawyer sent a notice to the registrar of the supreme court seeking to withdraw the SLP.

Rebellion in the ranks

The matter dates back to last year when Pilot and 19 MLAs rebelled against the state leadership. Joshi had filed a petition with assembly speaker Dr CP Joshi on July 13 alleging that the MLAs had flouted the party whip by not attending a party meeting. The speaker had issued notices to all the MLAs on July 16 seeking their reply in the matter.

However, instead of replying to the speaker, the Pilot camp had challenged the notice in the high court. The court had directed the speaker to maintain status quo in the matter.

Mahesh Joshi and the speaker had then filed then SLP in the supreme court on July 24 last year, challenging the order of the Rajasthan high court. The supreme court in its hearing earlier this month had issued notices to all the parties and sought their replies.

However, while Mahesh Joshi has started the process to withdraw his SLP, Dr CP Joshi’s SLP is still pending in the supreme court. Dr Joshi’s lawyer Prateek Kasliwal said the high court ruling amounted to interference in the speaker’s powers and this is a constitutional question on which the apex court has to decide.

Meanwhile, Maken has said the Congress wants to bring all factions together. He said at the kisan mahapanchayat in Kotkhavda on February 17, Pilot had put up posters with chief minister Ashok Gehlot’s photos which he has not done even when he was deputy chief minister. He said both sides have to show magnanimity and forget past differences.

Tug of war

The tussle between Gehlot and Pilot has shown no signs of ending even as the party high command has made efforts to bridge the divide in the party. Pilot and his camp are seeking a fair share in political appointments and a cabinet reshuffle while Gehlot has been trying to put off any appointments.

Feeling sidelined, Pilot and his supporting MLAs have been holding kisan mahapanchayats ostensibly in support of farmers but also an attempt to show their strength to the party leadership.

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