Rajasthan Congress on Tuesday took disciplinary action against Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot after he failed to turn up at the Congress Legislative Party meeting in Jaipur. In an announcement by Randeep Singh Surjewala, it came out clear that Pilot, along with two other ministers were removed from their post with immediate effect. This comes after talks between senior Congress leaders, including, working President Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi failed to convince Pilot come back into the fold.
Following the Congress Legislative Party meet, a press conference was addressed by Randeep Singh Surjewala, wherein he said, "Sachin Pilot, along with some other ministers have teamed up with the Bharatiya Janata Party, which is clearly aimed at toppling the Rajasthan government."
"Several leaders of the Congress party have tried to speak with Sachin Pilot, but to no vain," Surjewala said, adding, "there was no response from Pilot."
Govind Singh Dotasra was replaced by Sachin Pilot as Rajasthan PCC Chief, Surjewala said.
Tuesday morning began with a hope that Sachin Pilot would return to normal action as reports emerging from Jaipur suggested. However, as the day progressed, Congress party's hopes faded with Pilot camp, who stationed at Gurugram, failed to show up for the meeting.
102 MLAs present at the party meet had unanimously demanded that Sachin Pilot should be removed from the party.
Ahead of the meeting, Congress general secretary Avinash Pande had made another bid to reach out to the rebel leader, who had skipped the first CLP meeting at Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot’s home on Monday.
Eighteen other Congress MLAs had also not attended Monday’s meeting, according to sources. But independents and MLAs from other parties participated, expressing support for Gehlot.
Tuesday’s meeting was said to be a second chance for Pilot, who is also the president of the state unit of the party.
But MLAs considered close to Pilot were again not seen there, and are calling for a floor test in the 200-member state assembly.
Srimadhopar MLA Deepender Singh Shekhawat, who was Speaker in the assembly during the term of the previous Congress government, came out in the open Tuesday with the demand.
The Pilot camp also released late at night a 10-second video clip of a group of Congress MLAs sitting together. There appeared to be 16 of them in the clip.
Tourism Minister Vishvendra Singh tweeted the video, captioning it as "Family".
The latest Congress meeting is being held at a resort where Gehlot and other MLAs are camping since Monday. It was scheduled to begin at 10 am, but started at least an hour later.
"I appeal to Sachin Pilot and all his fellow MLAs to join today's Legislature Party meeting,” Avinash Pande, who is the Rajasthan in-charge at the AICC, tweeted in the morning.
“While expressing your faith in the ideology and values of the Congress, please make your presence felt and strengthen the hands of Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi," he said.
He told reporters that a second chance is being given to Pilot and hoped that all MLAs come and extend solidarity with the leadership for which people voted to ensure the state’s development.
Congress leader Randeep Surjewala on Monday night announced summoning of the second CLP meeting, amid attempts by the party’s top leadership to woo back dissidents led by Pilot.
Former party president Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra are among the senior leaders who had been in touch with Pilot, sources said.
Party leaders had said 106 of 122 MLAs – from Congress and the allies -- attended the first CLP meeting, a claim contested by the Pilot camp.
Pilot and his supporters claimed to have the backing of 30 Congress MLAs and some independents.
Pilot has been upset since he was denied the Rajasthan chief minister’s post after the December 2018 assembly elections.
In the 200-member assembly, the Congress has 107 MLAs and the BJP 72. In the past, the ruling party has claimed the support of 13 independents, two MLAs each from the CPM and the Bhartiya Tribal Party (BTP), and one from the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD).