An MLA from Sachin Pilot’s camp on Monday said the legislators supporting the former Rajasthan deputy chief minister will not join the BJP and their fight was to “save the party” by effecting a leadership change in the Rajasthan government.
Mukesh Bhakar, MLA from Ladnun, Nagaur, who was dropped as the state youth Congress chief last week, also appealed to the party high command that in order to save the Congress, they must act now and change the state leadership.
Asked about the Congress’ allegation that they were under BJP protection in Haryana, a state ruled by the saffron party, Mr Bhakar said, “No one is in a BJP state, we are in Delhi.” He, however, did not elaborate.
Countering Congress MLA Giriraj Singh Malinga’s charge that Mr Pilot had offered him money to join the BJP, Mr Bhakar claimed that it was the Pilot supporters who were being lured for the last one and a half years with money, ministerial berths and contracts to cross over to the Gehlot camp.
Mr Bhakar claimed that he as well as other Pilot supporters were still getting offers from the Gehlot camp.
“But, we have stood by our leader,” Mr Bhakar said.
Asked if they could join hands with the BJP, he categorically denied any such plans and said, “We have not met any person from the BJP and neither anyone has contacted us.”
“We have said this earlier and our leader Sachin Pilot had also made it clear that we will not join the BJP and our fight is for a leadership change in our state,” he said.
These things are being said to tarnish the image of Mr Pilot and his supporters, he said.
Mr Bhakar said he and many other MLAs have made all efforts to convey to the leadership in Delhi over the last year and a half that Mr Pilot was being ignored, but their pleas went unheard.
“We met Avinash Pande (AICC in-charge of the state), K C Venugopal (general secretary, organisation) Mukul Wasnik (general secretary) to convey our concerns repeatedly that Pilot was being ignored, but they did not listen,” he told PTI.
“Gehlot wants Pilot to go from this party and that is why he is making such abusive statements and allegations,” the MLA said.
Mr Bhakar also alleged that the very people on whose hard work the government was formed are being now hounded.
Last week, in an open revolt, Mr Pilot and 18 other loyalist MLAs defied a party whip to attend two Congress Legislature Party meetings. He was then sacked as deputy chief minister and PCC chief.
The showdown came after the Rajasthan police’s Special Operations Group launched a probe into alleged attempts at horse trading to topple the Gehlot government and issued a notice to Mr Pilot to appear during the investigation. SOG had also given a notice to Mr Gehlot.
Later, the Rajasthan chief minister had alleged that Mr Pilot was part of the conspiracy by the BJP, which denied these allegations and blamed the Gehlot-Pilot power tussle for the Congress’ troubles in the state.
Meanwhile, the Rajasthan High Court is hearing a plea by Mr Pilot and other rebel MLAs against the disqualification notices issued to them by the Assembly Speaker.
In the 200-member state assembly, the Congress has 107 MLAs, including former deputy chief minister Mr Pilot and 18 MLAs loyal to him.
Mr Pilot has been upset since the Congress picked Mr Gehlot over him for the chief minister’s post, following the December 2018 assembly elections.