The Congress has sacked Sachin Pilot and two other ministers, after the rebel Congress leader along with 18 loyalists didn’t attend the legislative party meeting for the second time on Tuesday (July 14).
“Rajasthan Deputy CM Sachin Pilot as well as Vishvendra Singh and Ramesh Meena removed as ministers,” Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said.
Pilot who along with his loyalists had skipped the first Congress Legislative Party (CLP) meeting held at Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot’s house on Monday despite being invited to attend it, was once again invited by Congress general secretary Avinash Pande to attend the Tuesday meeting. Eighteen other Congress MLAs had also not attended Monday’s meeting, according to sources.
The party had warned action against those who skip the meeting.
In the midst of the crisis in the Congress fold, the state BJP unit has called a meeting on Tuesday, said a report in Indian Express. Former home minister Gulab Chand Kataria, Rajendra Rathore and BJP state president Satish Poonia are likely to meet.
Tuesday’s CLP 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.
(With inputs from agencies)