Rajasthan political crisis: In bid to block Pilot, Gehlot camp MLAs quit en masse

JAIPUR: Legislators and ministers loyal to Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot made a beeline for the assembly speaker’s residence late Sunday to resign en masse ahead of a scheduled CLP meeting, seeking to preempt the possibility of the Congress high command from picking his bete noire Sachin Pilot for chief ministership.
Cabinet minister Pratap Singh Khachariyawas, who had accompanied Gehlot to Jaisalmer in the day, said 92 MLAs were at speaker CP Joshi’s door, while independent legislator and CM Gehlot’s adviser Sanyam Lodha pegged the number of resignations at 83. By midnight, the MLAs had returned home after putting in their resignations. Minister Saleh Mohammad confirmed that the resignations had been submitted. The CLP meeting, after being rescheduled twice in the evening, was called off as Gehlot’s backers failed to turn up at his residence.


“They are angry and have said that Sonia Gandhi ji and Rahul Gandhi ji should listen to them, and not pick the next CM from anyone among those who revolted (against Gehlot in 2020),” Khachariyawas said. He insisted it is not a revolt. “This is a way of sending their message across to the central party leadership. These MLAs are asking why a CLP meeting has been convened before the AICC presidential election?”
Lodha said the next CM should be picked “from among the 102 Congress MLAs who staunchly stood by the party during the 35-day crisis in 2020, and not from the MLAs who camped in Manesar (Haryana)”.
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Congress has 108 MLAs in the 200-member House while BJP has 71, RLP 3, BTP and CPM 2 each and RJD 1. There are 13 independents.
Till around 11.45pm, Khachariyawas and his colleague Shanti Dhariwal were in talks with AICC observers Ajay Maken and Mallikarjun Kharge to convey the Gehlot loyalists’ misgivings about the CLP meeting. Cabinet minister Govindram Meghwal, too, questioned the “hurry” in convening a CLP meeting before the Congress presidential poll that Gehlot will contest.
For most of the day, Gehlot’s loyalists had been camping at Dhariwal’s residence, making clear their disagreement with the decision to authorise Congress’s interim chief Sonia Gandhi to pick the next chief minister through a one-line resolution passed at the CLP. On his part, Gehlot said the party would follow convention and give Sonia full authority to choose his successor.
The scenes at the residence of Dhariwal, seen as Gehlot’s troubleshooter, suggested his loyalists didn’t subscribe to this view. By late evening, most ministers and MLAs, including some independents, were speaking openly they wouldn’t accept as CM anyone from among Sachin Pilot and the 18 legislators who revolted against the government two years ago. Six of these 18 MLAs met Pilot after he reached Jaipur from Delhi in the afternoon. Unlike Gehlot’s supporters, they were mum on the way forward.
The 7pm CLP meeting was rescheduled twice before it was called off. Pilot, PCC chief Govind Singh Dotasra and a few MLAs had arrived by 8pm. Gehlot, who returned to Jaipur from Jaisalmer by evening, first met AICC general secretary Ajay Maken and leader of the opposition Mallikarjun Kharge at a city hotel for nearly an hour starting 7pm. Sources said the Gehlot camp feared “political vengeance” if Pilot were to be made CM.
Minister Meghwal said, “We want Gehlot to be Congress chief while continuing to be CM. What has happened that suddenly there is such a hurry to change CM? Let the (AICC) polls be over at least.”

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