Amid the ongoing political turmoil in Rajasthan, Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot fires a fresh salvo at his political rival Sachin Pilot alleging that he played a very dirty game and conspired to topple his own government. After terming him 'Nikamma' (useless or worthless) and 'Nakara' (purposeless), he ended his speech by saying Satyamev Jayate (truth will triumph).
This was the second time in the last one week when Gehlot opened all fronts against Pilot who was recently sacked as deputy chief minister and PCC chief.
Speaking to the media, Gehlot said, “There was no lack of respect for Pilot in the party, but he played a very dirty game and conspired to please the BJP.”
Gehlot also questioned his lawyers’ expense and said, “Harish Salve is fighting his case, where is so much money coming from? It’s anarchy being reported inside the country. Amid all these, Pilot’s face and character have been exposed. Our MLAs are held hostage in Gurgaon (Gurugram),” he added.
Gehlot said, “We knew he was good for nothing (Hum jaante they ye nikamma hai, nakara hai, koi kaam nahi kar raha hai, khali logon ko ladwa raha hai. Main yahan koi baingan bechne nahi aaya hun, main koi sabzi bechne nahi aaya hun (I knew he was good for nothing, had no better work than instigating people to fight. I have not come here to sell vegetables.)
The Chief Minister said that some MLAs from the Pilot camp are now saying that their mobile phones have been forcefully taken away and that they want to return to the party fold.
“You might have never heard in history that a party’s state head is busy toppling his own government,” he said before ending his address saying ‘Satyamev Jayate’.
After Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot on Monday termed him as ‘nikamma’ and ‘nakara’ (useless), Sachin Pilot who was sacked as Deputy Chief Minister and PCC chief said he was saddened but not surprised to be at the receiving end of such “baseless and vexatious allegations”.
“This is done solely to malign me and to stifle the legitimate concerns that I had raised against the party leadership of the state, as a member and MLA of INC. This attempt further aims at defaming me and attacking my credibility.”
The former Rajasthan PCC chief said, “The narrative is being redirected to avoid addressing the main issue. I will be taking appropriate and strictest possible legal action against the MLA who was made to make these accusations. I am sure more such concocted allegations will be thrown at me to cause aspersions on my public image. But I shall be unfettered and remain firm in my beliefs and convictions,” Pilot added.
During the hearing in the Rajasthan High Court on a petition filed by Congress rebel Sachin Pilot and 18 other Congress MLAs against disqualification notices issued to them by the Assembly Speaker, Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing on behalf of the Speaker, argued that the petition of the Pilot faction is premature and hence should be dismissed.
The petition of Sachin Pilot faction is being heard in the Jaipur Bench of the Rajasthan High Court and a bench of Chief Justice Indrajit Mahanty and Justice Prakash Gupta are hearing the case.
Arguing the case Singhvi said, “The Speaker has just given notices, not disqualified the MLAs. The Speaker’s order can be challenged only on the limited ground, so there is no basis in the petition filed by the Pilot faction.”
“The Supreme Court in its decision on January 21 said that the Court cannot interfere in the powers of the Speaker, so why is this being debated?” Singhvi questioned adding “There cannot be a judicial review of the notice of the Speaker. The notice is not against the Freedom of Speech. Anti-party activities are political sins and also legally wrong,” he added.
The hearing has been continued since Thursday after Pilot camp filed a petition in court against notice served to them by the Speaker.
The rebels had taken the Congress to court on Thursday arguing that “free speech” cannot be labelled as “anti-party activity”.
The petition questioned the validity and correctness of the notice issued by the speaker and termed the complaint as motivated filed on behalf of Mahesh Joshi, the Chief Whip of the Congress in the Rajasthan legislative assembly.
While the Pilot camp is being represented by two of India’s top lawyers — Mukul Rohatgi, former Attorney General, and Harish Salve, Rajasthan speaker is being represented by Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi in court.
The rebels in the case have argued that they can’t be served such notices when the Rajasthan assembly is not in session.
Counsel Harish Salve on Friday had argued that dissident MLAs want to challenge anti-defection law enshrined in the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution.
The hearing was adjourned till Monday and the Speaker was asked not to take any action against petitioners till Tuesday.
Amid internal rift in Rajasthan Congress, where former deputy chief minister Sachin Pilot rebelled against the party and decided to be elusive with his supporting 18 MLAs, Congress sources say that the party leadership has tried its best to retain Pilot in the party fold.
Congress Chief Spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said, “two senior members of the Congress Working Committee spoke to him at least eight times. Congress General Secretary (Organisation) K.C. Venugopal also spoke to him two to three times. Even members of the Gandhi family spoke to Pilot to persuade him to come back in the party fold.”
“Now Sachin Pilot has to decide if he wanted to be trapped in the BJP conspiracy or come out of the clutches,” added Surjewala.
Sources say Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra has also spoken to him but Pilot said he did not need the advice of the party leadership.
Sources close to the deliberations said that Sachin Pilot’s only condition was the Chief Minister’s post but the party has told him to be accommodated outside Rajasthan.
The Congress leaders who wanted him back in the party said, in the condition of anonymity, that the Congress cannot rely on him anymore as he is hobnobbing with the BJP.
The matter of the family should be sorted out within the family, it cannot be resolved through media channels and Sachin Pilot should immediately stop taking favours from the BJP, said Surjewala.
Congress sources say Senior party functionaries Ahmed Patel and P. Chidambaram also spoke to Pilot.
While Congress top leaders said that there is no progress on talks with him as the government is now safe and Sachin Pilot has to decide for the rapprochement with the party.
The fight within the Rajasthan Congress came out in the open after the SOG (Special Operation Group) released tapped phone calls which discuss the rift between Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and his deputy Sachin Pilot.
After the SOG notice, Sachin Pilot along with his supporting MLAs reached Delhi and the Congress appealed to him twice to attend the legislature party meeting but it was all futile now as the matter of disqualification has gone to court.
The Congress has alleged that it is the BJP’s plan to topple the Congress government in Rajasthan by bringing Congress MLAs and Independents under their fold during the Rajya Sabha polls.
The officials of the Special Operation Group (SOG) on Monday issued notice to Union Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat in the case of alleged horse-trading of MLAs in Rajasthan. (IANS)