India

Amid Congress's Rajasthan Crisis, Sachin Pilot Posters Torn Then Replaced

Amid Congress's Rajasthan Crisis, Sachin Pilot Posters Torn Then Replaced

Posters of Rajasthan Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot were torn down, then replaced

Jaipur:

Posters and banners with images of Rajasthan Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot, whose rebellion has threatened the Congress government in the state, were replaced Monday afternoon, hours after they were torn down by party workers upset with his actions.

However, his name plate at the Rajasthan Congress's office in Jaipur was left untouched.

In dramatic scenes starting Sunday evening, Mr Pilot has sought to press home long-standing demands for chief ministership - and key portfolios for his loyalists - by claiming the support of 30 MLAs, which is enough to bring down the Ashok Gehlot government.

At a show of strength at his residence this morning, Mr Gehlot asserted he had 106 MLAs in his corner before packing them all off to a resort to be guarded against poaching - either by the BJP or Mr Pilot, who opted to skip that meeting.

Congress sources also countered Mr Pilot's claim and say he has no more than 16 MLAs backing him.

The halfway mark in the 200-member Rajasthan Assembly is 101.

Mr Pilot, who has ghosted Congress leaders since the drama began, has also been linked with a shock switch to the BJP, in a turn of events not dissimilar from that which accompanied Jyotiraditya Scindia's cross-over in Madhya Pradesh only three months ago.

Mr Pilot told today that he was "not joining the BJP" but his aides have not denied a dialogue with the opposition party.

A meeting with Congress leaders Sonia and Rahul Gandhi, which many see as a critical step in resolving this crisis, is also unlikely to happen today, Mr Pilot told.

As the tension-filled drama plays out, the BJP has said it is in "wait and watch" mode and will monitor events before deciding what to do.

The BJP had earlier said offering Mr Pilot the post of chief minister, should he quit the Congress and join them, was untenable as the party had its own candidate - senior leader and former Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje.

The long-running feud between Ashok Gehlot and Sachin Pilot spilled over after the deputy was summoned for questioning into an alleged attempt to destabilise the government.