At least 19 Congress legislators are now supporting Sachin Pilot, the deputy chief minister of Rajasthan who by his absence from the state this weekend has fuelled major speculation about an imminent exit and split of the party.
The absence came soon after the special operations group (SOG) of the state police’s anti-terror squad posted a notice at his residence to appear for questioning.
The questioning is to take place in connection with the case registered on Friday by the ATS that there was a plot to bring down the Ashok Gehlot government.
The first information report (FIR) and the alleged tapped phone conversations have put on record what has otherwise been an open secret—that chief minister Ashok Gehlot and his deputy do not get along.
Also read: ‘No meetings with Sachin Pilot,’ maintains BJP; says ‘no role in trying to topple Gehlot govt
What everyone is now wondering is if this episode will push Pilot to quit the Congress party.
“This was taking humiliation to a different level. He just got a call on Saturday that they had posted this notice and left. Is this how a deputy chief minister is treated?’’ a leader, who is close to Pilot, asked.
While officials of the Rajasthan government say that the notice was also sent to the chief minister as well, the leader quoted above called the summon a “joke”.
“The chief minister also holds the home portfolio, so how can they question him? This is all very sinister as this FIR will give them a reason to put surveillance on the deputy chief minister,’’ the BJP leader said.
As the fallout of this very public saga slowly unravelled, the resort drama has now started.
Pilot’s supporters are lodged in various resorts, including an ITC Grand Bharat in Gurugram.
ITC Bharat has previously played hosts to rebel MLAs and it was where the Karnataka legislators were also brought during the crisis facing the Kumaraswamy government.
Also read: Amid reports of turmoil in Rajasthan govt, Sachin Pilot meets Ahmed Patel
Pilot’s location was in Delhi on Saturday but unclear at present.
Pilot came to Delhi and met senior leader Ahmed Patel to discuss the issue. He told the senior leader known to be a close aide of party president, Sonia Gandhi, during the special one-on-one meeting that his differences with Ashok Gehlot had gone too far.
HT has been unable to confirm if Sachin Pilot actually met with any BJP leader. However, Congress leaders said that they are aware that Pilot has been in touch with them.
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