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Saturday, June 19, 2021

‘Zero’ progress on agreement: Pilot camp backs MLA

An MLA known to be a Pilot supporter, Ved Prakash Solanki, said, “There must be around 50 MLAs who (feel the same), who will not speak to the media but if you talk to them off record, they will speak up."

Written by Hamza Khan | Jaipur |
May 20, 2021 9:03:12 am
Sachin Pilot, Hemaram Choudhary, Rajasthan MLA, Rajasthan govt, Rajasthan news, Pilot camp, Ashok gehlot, India news, Indian expressMLA Hemaram Choudhary (L) and Sachin Pilot (R). (File)

A day after Sachin Pilot camp MLA Hemaram Choudhary submitted his resignation to Rajasthan Assembly Speaker C P Joshi, sources in the Pilot camp said there had been “zero” progress on the agreement brokered by the party high command between Pilot and Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot.

“It has been nine months since the AICC stepped in and assured the MLAs that their concerns will be addressed. However, there has been zero progress on the assurances,” a leader said, with the camp accusing Gehlot of “vendetta politics”, including in the case of Choudhary.

“Hemaram ji said that he is 76 years old and this would be his last term. He said he can’t live this life of indignity and can’t keep approaching the CM for every small thing. He is in his sixth term as an MLA and has spent his entire life in the Congress, even going to jail for the party,” a leader said. Sources quoted Choudhary as saying he “will be with Pilot till the last breath” but can’t continue as an MLA under the present circumstances.

An MLA known to be a Pilot supporter, Ved Prakash Solanki, said, “There must be around 50 MLAs who (feel the same), who will not speak to the media but if you talk to them off record, they will speak up.”

Following a rebellion by 19 Congress MLAs, including Choudhary, led by Pilot last year, the party high command had constituted a committee comprising the late Ahmed Patel, K C Venugopal and Ajay Maken to address the issues raised by the then Deputy CM.

One of the major points of contention between the Pilot and Gehlot camps is the long-delayed Cabinet expansion and several political appointments. Pilot and two of his loyalists had been removed as ministers following the rebellion, and they haven’t been reinstated since.

Officially, Choudhary said he will give the reason for his resignation once it is accepted.

On Wednesday, he tweeted, “I have carried out my duty for the people of Gudamalani Assembly (seat), whether I was an MLA or not… I will continue to work for the people of Gudamalani.”

Solanki called Choudhary “one of the most honest” leaders in Rajasthan. Recounting an event from the 2009 Lok Sabha elections, he said, “I had had a falling out with him, but when I went with an observer to offer him a ticket, he told us he didn’t have money to contest elections. This was a minister telling us he didn’t have money… If such a senior and honest person has submitted his resignation, there must be reasons. This should be investigated by the party high command.”

Solanki accused the state leadership of delaying political appointments. “Appointments are taking place but mainly of (former) government servants and IAS and IPS officers.”

Before the bypolls in February, Pilot and Gehlot had put up a show of unity, taking the same helicopter and speaking from the same stage. But the Pilot camp’s hope that this would be followed by some reconciliatory measures from the other side have been belied.

Pilot had said he hoped that the issues over which the high command had formed a committee would be resolved. “We have fulfilled most of the promises made in our manifesto. However, we will have to work more quickly in the remaining tenure. This includes political appointments, cabinet expansion — whatever is to be done, the party and the government will form a consensus,” he said.

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