Congress strategists ready with Pilot-BJP 'collusion' evidence

There are indications that the Congress chief whip’s petitions to the Speaker have a copy of the ‘evidences’ and they could be produced in court and during the disqualification hearing. The Congress camp alleges the involvement of a senior union ...

Rajasthan crisis: CM Gehlot accuses Pilot of horse trading with BJP
New Delhi: Congress strategists in Jaipur are learnt to have armed themselves with ‘evidences’ to establish that rebel leader Sachin Pilot and some others ‘colluded’ with BJP and indulged in ‘anti-party activities’. The developments came on a day when Pilot formally ended posturing and moved the Rajasthan high court against the Speaker’s notice under the anti-defection law with the aid of two senior lawyers trusted highly by the Modi government and BJP.

There are indications that the Congress chief whip’s petitions to the Speaker have a copy of the ‘evidences’ and they could be produced in court and during the disqualification hearing. Late in the evening, some local news channels broadcast purported recorded conversations of unidentified people discussing the ‘toppling’. Congress strategists, who also claimed the role of a Union minister in the whole episode, were of the opinion that Pilot’s statements to the media of ‘not joining BJP’ and ‘not speaking against Congress’ were meant to support his line of defence during court and disqualification hearings.

Congress sources said that the disqualification of rebels was just a matter of time. Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot had said on Wednesday that he had ‘evidence’ that Pilot ‘indulged in horse trading’ and mentioned involvement of middlemen and others. A source said that the Congress was watching the conduct of the two other sacked ministers too. This apart, the Special Operation Group and Anti-Corruption Bureau are investigating the ‘conspiracy to topple’ the Gehlot government. The Congress is also trying to use the over 100 MLAs’ support Gehlot has to attract more legislators, after the ‘Pilot-BJP bid’ fell way short of the ‘target of 30 MLAs’.

“There is a qualitative difference between the current situation in Rajasthan and what happened in Madhya Pradesh. In MP, our government was reduced to a hapless minority the moment about 20 MLAs flew out and sent in their resignations, leaving disqualifications meaningless. However, Pilot could only manage just about half the MLAs BJP required. Our government is intact, while Pilot and his supporters will face the disqualification heat. This advantage will further play out,” said a senior Congress leader.

The Congress camp is confident that as long as the Gehlot government has the support of over 100 MLAs, BJP will not move a no-confidence motion. “Since nobody has questioned our government’s majority, a section of rebels are already in touch with us. They realise Pilot is battling to guard his assembly seat after losing his deputy CM and PCC posts,” claimed a member of Team Gehlot. Congress strategists calculate that barring 4-5 hardcore Pilot loyalists, the remaining rebels have kept their options open.

The ‘rumblings’ within the BJP involving former chief minister Vasundhara Raje has come to the aid of the Congress. The former CM skipped a key BJP meet on Wednesday even as BJP ally and RLD MP Hanuman Beniwal on Thursday alleged that there was a nexus between Raje and Gehlot. “Former chief minister Vasundhara Raje has called up BJP MLAs close to her and asked them to support Ashok Gehlot. She has called each and every Jat MLA in Sikar and Nagaur and asked them to distance themselves from Sachin Pilot. I have proof of this,” tweeted Beniwal. Raje is believed to have sizable loyalists among BJP’s 70 odd MLAs. In the recent past, Gehlot had taunted the Rajasthan BJP by asking them if the discussed issues with their former chief minister.
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