Rajasthan Government HIGHLIGHTS: Those betraying party won’t be able to face public, says Gehlot
Senior lawyer Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the Pilot camp, today told the High Court that there is nothing on record to show that the Rajasthan Speaker “applied his mind” while serving disqualification notices to Sachin Pilot and 18 other Congress rebel MLAs.
The Rajasthan High Court had earlier allowed the MLAs time till Tuesday 5.30 pm to file their response.
The Rajasthan High Court will pronounce its order on Friday on the writ petition filed by Sachin Pilot and 18 other dissident Congress MLAs challenging the disqualification notices issued to them by the state assembly speaker. The HC also requested the Speaker to defer action on disqualification notices till Friday.
Earlier in the day, CM Ashok Gehlot was a part of the Congress Legislative Party (CLP) meeting in Jaipur. Congress leader Ajay Maken, state unit president Govind Singh Dotasara and others were also present in the meeting. This is the third CLP since the political crisis began in the state.
Senior lawyer Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the Pilot camp, today told the High Court that there is nothing on record to show the Rajasthan Speaker “applied his mind” while serving disqualification notices to Sachin Pilot and 18 other Congress rebel MLAs. Rohatgi further argued that the rebels were granted less time for reply than as stated in rules and that there are no reasons recorded for issuing the notice. On Monday, the bench had observedthat a whip can be issued only for an Assembly session but not with respect to a party meeting. The court had earlier allowed the MLAs time till Tuesday 5.30 pm to file their response.
Meanwhile, breaking his silence on the Rajasthan crisis, Rahul Gandhi listed the alleged “attempt to topple” the government in the state as among the Centre’s “achievements” in the COVID-19 era. The Gandhis, have so far, refrained from making any public comment on the crisis triggered by Pilot’s revolt.
Rajasthan Government Crisis LIVE UPDATES: Third Congress meeting shortly ; Ashok Gehlot accused Pilot of conspiring with BJP. Follow all the updates here
Rajasthan government crisis LIVE updates: The Congress MLAs at Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot's residence last Monday. (File)
Rajasthan government crisis LIVE updates
Reacting to Congress MLA Giriraj Singh's allegation that former Rajasthan deputy CM Sachin Pilot had offered him Rs 35 crore to join BJP, Pilot said he was saddened but not surprised. "I'm saddened but not surprised to be at receiving end of such baseless, vexatious allegations being levelled against me. This attempt further aims at defaming me and attack my credibility. The narrative is being redirected to avoid addressing the main issue," he said in a statement.
Meanwhile, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot on Monday said he knew that his former deputy Sachin Pilot was "good for nothing". Addressing the reporters, he said, "I knew that he was useless, good for nothing, and was only there to instigate people to fight. I am not here to sell vegetables, I am the CM."
The rebels were served the disqualification notices after the Congress complained to the speaker that the lawmakers had defied the party whip to attend two Legislature Party meetings last week on Monday and Tuesday. The Pilot camp, however, argues that a party whip applies only when the Assembly is in session.
Meanwhile, sources told The Indian Express that Pilot is in touch with AICC general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra. The two spoke over the phone in the weekend, sources said. The top leadership, including Priyanka, is open to meeting Pilot, they added. The BJP, however, believes that the crisis in the Rajasthan Congress has gone past the point of no-return.
The BJP has been making some moves even if Pilot said he wasn't going to join the saffron party. The party has asked a clutch of tested leaders from its Rajasthan unit to explore the chances of winning over some MLAs currently in the Gehlot camp, the source said. According to one calculation within the BJP, there are 21 MLAs in the Pilot camp, including the 19 Congress rebels and two Independents – Om Prakash Hudla (Mahuwa) and Suresh Tak (Kishangarh). These 21 MLAs, along with the BJP’s own 72 and three of its ally, the RLP, take the anti-Gehlot number in the 200-member Assembly to 96.
Amid a political firestorm in Rajasthan, Leader of Opposition in the state assembly Gulab Chand Kataria Sunday said only a floor test can decide whether a government has the majority to stay in power or not. His statement came hours after Congress sources said there might be an assembly session later this week. Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot too had met Governor Kalraj Mishra on Saturday.
Meanwhile, despite the party having minuscule presence in the Rajasthan Assembly, the Bhartiya Tribal Party Sunday said it was now in a position of kingmakers. “We have two MLAs in a House of 200, yet we are in the position of kingmakers,” party president Maheshbhai C Vasava told PTI on Sunday. Vasava added the party was now extending support to the Gehlot government after an assurance that its demands related to the development of tribal areas will be met.
The political row over the audio tapes continued on Sunday after the Congress demanded the resignation of Union minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat for his alleged role in the conspiracy to topple the Asok Gehlot government. “If Union minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat is claiming that it is not his voice and the reference in the audio clip is of some other Gajendra Singh, then why is he afraid of giving voice samples?” Congress leader Ajay Maken asked.