India

Sachin Pilot's Exit Today? Congress Pins Hopes On Meeting Of MLAs

Sachin Pilot's Exit Today? Congress Pins Hopes On Meeting Of MLAs

The Congress denied any threat to its government in Rajasthan. (File)

The Congress faces a cliffhanger today in Rajasthan, where its number two leader Sachin Pilot has revolted and may make it official by skipping a crucial meeting called by his chief adversary, Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot. Sachin Pilot, 42, is in Delhi with MLAs loyal to him; he claims he has the support of 30, enough to bring down the Congress government. The Congress called a press meet at 2.30 AM to deny any crisis, claiming the support of 109 in the 200-member assembly.

Here are 10 developments in this big story:

  1. Sachin Pilot is set to miss the meeting of Congress MLAs in Jaipur, called by the Chief Minister as a show of strength.

  2. "What makes you think Sachin Pilot will not attend," Congress leaders in Jaipur said in the late-night briefing, asserting that disciplinary action would be taken against absentees.

  3. Sachin Pilot is likely to meet BJP chief JP Nadda amid rumours that he is taking Jyotiraditya Scindia's route in an attempt to reclaim his political space. 

  4. In March, Jyotiraditya Scindia, a close aide of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, stunned the party by defecting to the BJP along with 22 MLAs, which brought the Congress government in Madhya Pradesh crashing down. With Mr Scindia's help, the BJP returned to power.

  5. Around the time, Sachin Pilot, another Rahul Gandhi confidant who had been resentful after being denied Chief Ministership of Rajasthan, was also believed to have started talks with the BJP.

  6. The Congress denied any threat to its government in Rajasthan. "A total of 109 MLAs have signed a letter expressing their trust and support to the government led by Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and leadership of Sonia Gandhi-ji and Rahul Gandhi-ji," Rajasthan Congress in-charge Avinash Pande said. The majority mark is 101.

  7. The 2:30 AM Congress briefing followed a legislature party meeting at Ashok Gehlot's home in Jaipur. Congress's central leaders Randeep Surjewala and Ajay Maken, despatched from Delhi for trouble-shooting, were also present.

  8. After nearly two years of a simmering feud with Ashok Gehlot, the tipping point for Sachin Pilot came after he was summoned for questioning in an investigation into an alleged attempt to destabilise the state government ahead of the Rajya Sabha elections. The summons was based on what the police say were tapped phone conversations of two BJP members arrested on Friday.

  9. "Nobody wants to leave his home, but can't continue to put up with this kind of humiliation; my MLAs and supporters are extremely hurt and I will have to listen to them," Sachin Pilot told senior  journalist and political analyst Javed Ansari on Sunday.

  10. The Congress has 107 seats in the 200-strong Rajasthan Assembly and has the support of 10 Independent candidates. Five MLAS from other parties -- the Rashtriya Lok Dal, the CPM and the Bharatiya Tribal Party - support Ashok Gehlot, who claimed on Saturday that the BJP - it has 73 MLAs --  was offering up to Rs 15 crore to MLAs to switch sides.