Senior Congress leader and former Rajasthan deputy chief minister Sachin Pilot arrived in the national capital on Tuesday amid a buzz of a likely meeting with the party high command that is grappling with the high political drama in the state.
However, there was no confirmation about his schedule here with sources close to him saying that no meetings were fixed so far.
Pilot’s visit comes a day after Mallikarjun Kharge and Ajay Maken, the two Congress observers for Rajasthan, briefed party president Sonia Gandhi about the political crisis in the party’s state unit.
The two leaders were sent as observers to Jaipur for a Congress Legislature Party (CLP) meeting. However, the CLP meeting did not take place.
The observers, who had met MLAs in the state, termed as “indiscipline” the action of 82 MLAs in the state, setting conditions for the party leadership for appointing chief minister Ashok Gehlot’s successor.
The Congress in Rajasthan plunged into a crisis on Sunday as several MLAs loyal to Gehlot resigned over a possible move to appoint Pilot as his successor, their rebellion erupting just ahead of a CLP meeting.
The Gehlot loyalists have been vocal in their attack against Pilot and Maken with Rajasthan minister Shanti Dhariwal on Monday alleging that the party general secretary in charge was involved in a conspiracy to remove Gehlot as chief minister and was canvassing for the former deputy chief minister. However, the Pilot camp has kept quiet and is waiting for a decision by the Congress high command.
While the Gehlot camp has put the number of MLAs supporting him over 90, the Pilot supporters have questioned it, saying how can a bus that took the MLAs to C P Joshi’s house accommodate so many.
The Pilot camp has also claimed that many of the MLAs were misled about the time and venue of the meeting and were called to the house of Gehlot loyalist Dhariwal to boost numbers. They cited the statements of some MLAs, including that of Indira Meena, to back their claim.
“We were being asked to sign a paper. I did not read the paper,” Meena had told a TV channel.
Another MLA Ganga Devi said she is with the party, Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi and whatever the party’s high command decides, she would stand with them. Devi said she did not hand in her resignation letter.
Rajasthan MLA Prashant Bairwa said he could not attend the meeting but visited Joshi’s residence and resigned.
“All these steps are being taken in haste, nobody knows what will happen next,” he told a TV channel.
Meanwhile, party’s chief whip in the state, Mahesh Joshi, said the meeting of the MLAs loyal to Gehlot was not called to mount pressure on the party’s high command.
Joshi was reacting to Maken’s “indiscipline” remark about holding the meeting.
He said the MLAs have expressed their view so that it reaches the high command.
Congress issues show cause notice to 3 Gehlot loyalists
The Congress on Tuesday night issued show cause notices to three Ashok Gehlot loyalists—
Rajasthan ministers Shanti Dhariwal and Mahesh Joshi, and Dharmender Rathore—for their “grave indiscipline” and asked them to explain within 10 days why action should not be initiated against them.
The action came two days after 82 MLAs participated in a parallel meeting at Dhariwal’s residence in Jaipur laying down conditions to the party and did not attend the official legislature party meeting convened for passing a resolution authorising the Congress chief to appoint a successor to Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, who was to contest the Congress presidential election.
The party’s disciplinary committee sent the notices after Congress observers Mallikarjun Kharge and Ajay Maken submitted their written report to party chief Sonia Gandhi charging the three state leaders with “gross indiscipline”.
The panel’s member secretary Tariq Anwar in the notice to Dhariwal, Joshi and Rathore, referred to Maken’s report.“Prima facie, the above charges are an act of grave indiscipline. Therefore, this show cause notice is being issued seeking your reply within 10 days as to why disciplinary action not be taken against you as per the provisions of the constitution of the Indian National Congress,” the notice to all three leaders said.
Anwar in his notice to Dhariwal said that the observers’ report has submitted that as parliamentary affairs minister he sits on the dais and is a prominent speaker at all CLP meetings in Rajasthan.
Apart from issuing statements, he has committed grave indiscipline by hosting a parallel MLAs’ meeting at his residence “pressuring them not to attend the official meeting”, the notice said said
“As parliamentary affairs minister, hosting the unofficial meeting confused the Congress MLAs as to which one was convened officially.
“This happened even when Shri Kharge and Shri Maken repeatedly clarified that they have come here to speak to each MLA individually and impartially report to Congress President. No decision would be made in haste. After knowing the views of MLAs, Congress President will discuss them with everyone and take a well-considered decision,” the notice said.
Rajasthan PHED minister Mahesh Joshi was told that he, being the Chief Whip, officially informed every Congress MLA for the meeting slated to be held at 7 PM on September 25, 2022 at the Chief Minister’s Residence.
“You as Chief Whip have conducted grave indiscipline on two counts. Boycotting the official CLP meeting, even after you had informed (given notice) every Congress MLA to attend it, and by participating and convening a parallel meeting of the MLAs at the time when officially appointed observers were waiting for the official meeting to start.
“As Chief Whip your presence at the unofficial and illegal meeting confused the MLAs as to which one was convened officially, the notice to Joshi said.
In his notice to Rathore, who is the chairman of Rajasthan Tourism Development Corporation, Anwar said he as Chairman of RTDC and a member of the PCC “made all logistical arrangements and were behind the entire planning of the unofficial meeting of the MLAs, held parallel to the official Rajasthan CLP meeting” which is an act of “grave indiscipline”.