Rajasthan power tussle: Cong tries to keep its MLAs together; sends Makan, Surjewala as central observers

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Rajasthan power tussle: Cong tries to keep its MLAs together; sends Makan, Surjewala as central observers


NEW DELHI: Amid severe power tussle between Rajasthan chief minister

Ashok Gehlot

and his

deputy Sachin Pilot

, the Congress on Sunday dispatched two of its senior leaders as central observers to Jaipur to talk to its MLAs, even as the party’s general secretary in charge of the state asserted that the government was stable and will complete its full term.

The action by the Congress leadership came in the midst of widening rift between Gehlot, who convened a meeting of MLAs, including of Independent legislators supporting his government in what appeared to be a show of strength, and Pilot, who is camping in the national capital since Saturday and skipped the meet.

Sources in the Congress said the party cannot afford to lose another state, as it has already lost

Karnataka

and Madhya Pradesh even after forming the government following assembly elections there.

While the top Congress leadership was tight-lipped about the strategy for Rajasthan, some senior leaders said efforts were underway to keep all 107 MLAs together to avert any potential threat to the government in the wake of Pilot’s claims of support of 30 MLAs.

The Congress is also assessing the future moves of Pilot and his bargaining power with the BJP, which the senior leaders alleged is the main spoiler in the game.

Party leaders are also working overtime to ensure a show of strength at the meeting of the Congress Legislature Party to be held in Jaipur on Monday. Gehlot and other leaders are said to be in touch with party allies as also with independents MLAs supporting the government.

The events in Rajasthan come almost four months after the Congress government in Madhya Pradesh headed by Kamal Nath was toppled, with his bete noire Jyoritaditya Scindia switching sides to the BJP, along with his supporters.

However, in-charge of Rajasthan affairs in the Congress, Avinash Pande told PTI that the government was stable and would complete its full term.

He said he has tried to reach out to Sachin Pilot, who is incommunicado for the last two days, and have left messages for him.

The Congress has 107 MLA in the 200-member state assembly, and also has support of at least 10 independent MLAs. The BJP has 72 MLAs and has the support of three MLAs of Rashtriya Loktantrik Party run by Hanuman Beniwal.

As the Congress grappled with factionalism, Pande wondered who were the MLAs who are purported to have sided with Pilot. “All Congress MLAs are in touch with me and the government in Rajasthan is stable and will last its full term,” he said.

Meanwhile, three of the MLAs considered to be close to Pilot – Danish Abrar,

Rohit Bohra

and Chetan Dudi, returned from Delhi to Jaipur and extended their support to Gehlot saying they are and will remain loyal soldiers of the party.

Pande also said party chief

Sonia Gandhi

has been updated on the developments in Rajasthan.

The Congress leadership has sent two of its senior leaders – Ajay Maken and Randeep Surjewala– as central observers to Jaipur to talk to its legislators and save its government.

The latest tussle in the state was triggered after the Special Operations Group (SOG) of Rajasthan Police issued notices to Gehlot and Pilot after registering an FIR on Friday against two people, who have been detained, for their alleged involvement in horse trading of Congress MLAs for toppling the state government.

The supporters of Pilot said the notice sent to the deputy chief minister was to humiliate him. On the Rajasthan police issuing notice to Gehlot also to record

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