Two days after around 90 MLAs loyal to Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot skipped the Congress Legislature Party (CLP) meet, the Congress’s chief whip in Rajasthan, Mahesh Joshi, on Tuesday defended what transpired on Sunday evening, adding that he is “ready to face the consequences”.
Also, several MLAs and ministers met CM Gehlot in the evening while Sachin Pilot reached Delhi on Tuesday afternoon. With his nomination for party president’s post under cloud, sources said CM Gehlot told the ministers and MLAs that, “meri toh pehle bhi ichha nahin thi (I was not keen earlier too), rest is up to the party leadership”.
Addressing a press conference in Jaipur, he said the meeting of the MLAs was not called to mount pressure on the party high-command. “I am saying again and again that speaking your mind is not mounting pressure. We have not created any pressure on the high-command but only expressed our views. Whatever decision the leadership takes, we will obey it,” he said.
Joshi was reacting to All India Congress Committee (AICC) observer Ajay Maken’s “indiscipline” remark for holding a separate meeting. Joshi said he was “hurt” at the accusations from the AICC observers.
“We did not know what was the agenda of the CLP meet. Ajay Maken-ji is correct the raishumari (consultation) is done individually. But was raishumari the agenda of the CLP meet? Was it in the agenda that there will be raishumari about changing the CM? If it wasn’t so, then why the allegations…the CLP meet is held as a group,” Joshi said.
“When we went to meet Ajay Maken at night, we told him that you should listen to us all together in the CLP meeting. And if some MLAs want to meet you individually, you can do that, too. But perhaps we were unable to make Ajay Maken understand our point of view, or maybe he did not understand ours,” he said.
On MLAs gathering at minister Shanti Dhariwal’s residence, Mahesh Joshi said: “We wanted to clear doubts first so that there was no unrest during the CLP meeting. We did not have a parallel meeting.”
Joshi also denied the claim of Sachin Pilot camp that some MLAs were pressured to sign the resignation letter. “No one was pressured. Not one was forcibly called to Dhariwal’s residence. All those who were informed about the CLP meeting, no one was told that there is a meeting at Dhariwal’s residence.”
“If even a single MLA says that I spoke anything about Dhariwal’s residence on 25th, then I may be stripped of all the posts,” he said.
Absolving Gehlot of any wrongdoing, Joshi said, “What happened day before (Sunday), Ashok Gehlot-ji didn’t have anything to do with it. He did not talk about anything with us, be it about the Congress president poll or the CM post. We complained to him before the observers, too.”
On Maken’s charge that they wanted to include three conditions in the resolution, Joshi said, “We never said that these three points of ours be made a part of the resolution. We said that these three things should be communicated to the party high command. And whatever the high command decides, we will pass a one-line resolution.”
“…he [Maken] said that we should first pass a one-line resolution before he conveys the message, while we said that the message should be conveyed first. What wrong did we say? Getting our word to the high command is our right,” Joshi said.