Rajasthan Row: Sachin Pilot vs Ashok Gehlot - what do we know so far
Rajasthan Row: Sachin Pilot vs Ashok Gehlot - what do we know so far
PTI

As the Congress grappled with a crisis in Rajasthan, the top party leadership on Monday appeared to go all out to pacify Sachin Pilot, who has raised a revolt against chief minister Ashok Gehlot, with senior party leaders saying that both Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra talked to the rebel leader.

The Congress leadership has also assured Pilot of quick redressal of his concerns, party sources said.

These overtures from the Congress top brass came a day after some senior party leaders expressed concern over the crisis in Rajasthan, and sought immediate action from the party leadership to resolve it.

Apart from Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, senior leaders, including Ahmed Patel, P Chidambaram and K C Venugopal also talked to Pilot during the day and have asked him not to go against the chief minister, said some senior Congress leaders, who did not wish to be named.

However, despite repeated efforts, there was no confirmation from either Pilot or leaders close to him about these conversations.

Meanwhile, Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala, who is in Jaipur as party's central observer, also adopted a conciliatory tone, saying "doors are open for Sachin Pilot and other MLAs. They will be heard and solutions will be found. This is the discipline of the party." The leaders also said that Pilot was asked to attend the Congress Legislature Party meeting in Jaipur on Monday, but he did not attend the meet, even though it was delayed by a few hours to enable him to join.

A resolution adopted at the CLP meeting urged "strong disciplinary action" against any party office-bearer or CLP member who does anything to weaken the government or the party, but stopped short of naming Pilot, who is the deputy chief minister and also heads the state unit of the party.

This is probably the first time that the Congress has not taken an immediate action against a leader who has openly revolved against his own government in a state.

After an appeal made to rebel leaders, the Congress has called another meeting of its MLAs in Jaipur on Tuesday morning, a move seen by some as another chance given to all those who were unable to attend CLP meet on Monday.

According to party leaders, after Jyotiraditya Scindia, Rahul Gandhi does not want to lose another young leader, who was considered to be close to him and has been given a number of key responsibilities in the party.

Sources also said it was on Rahul Gandhi's insistence that Surjewala made an open appeal to Pilot to join the CLP meeting while adopting a conciliatory note.

Pilot, who is in Delhi, has raised a banner of revolt against Gehlot, after the special operations group (SOG) of Rajasthan Police sent a notice to him for appearing before it in the case involving "horse-trading" of MLAs in the state.

The SOG has registered an FIR in the case and has sent notices to the chief minister, Pilot, chief whip of Congress and some ministers and MLAs.

Meanwhile, the Congress was making all efforts to save its government in Rajasthan, and a resolution in support of Gehlot was passed during the CLP meet.

Pilot has claimed that the Ashok Gehlot government is in minority and that he has the support of over 30 MLAs in the 200-member state assembly.

Gehlot seems comfortable after the CLP meeting, which according to some leaders was attended by around 106 MLAs, a claim contested by Pilot's camp.

Sources said Gehlot seemed confident after the CLP meeting as he felt he is "comfortable" with the numbers stacked in his favour.

Though the party has adopted a conciliatory approach towards Pilot so far, a senior leader said the ball is now in Pilot's court on the next step he takes. He said Pilot does not seem to have the numbers and he has apparently "gone a bit too far" with his public stance against Gehlot.

The leader said that in case Pilot decides to float his own outfit or joins the BJP, along with his supporters, they would have to quit as MLAs.

The events in Rajasthan come almost four months after the Congress government in Madhya Pradesh headed by Kamal Nath was toppled, with his bete noire Jyoritaditya Scindia switching sides to the BJP, along with his supporters. However, the situation in Rajasthan is different as the Congress has 107 MLA in the 200-member state assembly, and also enjoys support of at least 10 independent MLAs. The BJP has 72 MLAs and has the support of three MLAs of Rashtriya Loktantrik Party run by Hanuman Beniwal.

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