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Thursday, August 06, 2020

Sachin Pilot removed from Rajasthan Cabinet; loyalists say his humiliation ‘unacceptable’

Besides Sachin Pilot, Tourism Minister Vishvendra Singh and Food and Civil Supplies Minister Ramesh Meena have been removed from the state Cabinet.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi | Updated: July 14, 2020 8:24:42 pm
Rajasthan crisis, Rajasthan government crisis, CLP meeting, Rajasthan government CLP meeting, India news, Indian Express Sachin Pilot and Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot. Pilot was removed as state Deputy Chief Minister on Tuesday.

The Congress on Tuesday stripped Sachin Pilot of the two key positions he held within the party and Rajasthan Cabinet, possibly shutting the door for reconciliation with Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot.  A day after he was given a “second chance”, Pilot was removed from the posts of Deputy Chief Minister of Rajasthan and state Congress president. Two ministers loyal to Pilot were also axed from the state Cabinet.

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Primary and Secondary Education Minister Govind Singh Dotasra will replace Pilot as the state Congress president. Pilot soon tweeted: “Truth can be disturbed, not defeated.”

Addressing the media after the CLP meeting today, party spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala accused the BJP of misleading Pilot and other Congress leaders. “We spoke to Pilot multiple times and told him that all his concerns will be addressed. No other young neta has grown as much as Pilot. We have given him due recognition in the short-term that he was in politics,” he said.

While Tourism Minister Vishvendra Singh and Food and Civil Supplies Minister Ramesh Meena have been removed from the state Cabinet, Mukesh Bhakar was removed as the Indian Youth Congress (IYC) state president. He will be replaced by Ganesh Ghogra.

A signed statement released by the two ministers and former speaker Deepender Shekhawat said they are “not clamouring for any posts”, but the “public humiliation of Pilot” was “unacceptable”.

“We have for years worked with dedication, devotion and service towards the party. And we are taking a stand to protect our dignity and self-respect at a time when our leader is threatened with notices from the SOG under the charges of sedition and criminal conspiracy.

…Under the leadership of Shri Sachin Pilot we have made every effort in the past 6 years to strengthen the party and bring it to power in Rajasthan at a time when it had been reduced to an insignificant number in the state assembly,” the statement, signed by Vishvender Singh, Ramesh Meena, and former Speaker Deepender Shekhawat, said.

The statement further said that “public humiliation” of Pilot was unacceptable, and those responsible for meeting out this treatment need to be held accountable. “We are seeking to restore our self-respect and are not clamouring for any posts and positions contrary to false reports in the media,” the statement said.

“We have been senior members of the party for many years and have held many positions within the party and government and are not lured by inducements,” it added.

Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot staged a show of strength Monday and claimed support of 106 MLAs — five more than the majority mark of 101 — and said there was no threat to the government. He also got the party to pass a resolution which, apart from targeting the BJP for attempting to destabilise his government, called for “strict disciplinary action” against Congress members involved in “anti-government or anti-party activities”.

Despite the rebellion in his government, Ashok Gehlot may not see a Madhya Pradesh-like situation where Jyotiraditya Scindia’s rebellion had toppled the Congress government. This is so because the difference between the combined strength of the Congress and that of the BJP-led opposition is not razor-thin in Rajasthan, unlike in Madhya Pradesh.

In the 200-member Rajasthan Assembly, the Congress has 107 MLAs and it is supported by two members each from Bharatiya Tribal Party and CPM, one MLA from RLD, and 12 Independents (124). The BJP has 72 MLAS, its ally, the Hanuman Beniwal-led Rashtriya Loktantrik Party, has three and is supported by one Independent MLA.

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