Senior Congress leader Sachin Pilot said on Wednesday that the leadership was taking a “inordinately long” time to punish those who “defied” then-president Sonia Gandhi by not letting a legislature party meeting happen. He also said that a decision about the party’s business in Rajasthan must be made soon if the trend of changing governments is to be stopped.
Pilot said that the AICC disciplinary committee under A K Antony, Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge, and the leadership can best explain why there has been a “unprecedented delay” in making a decision on the matter. The show-cause notices were sent to three supporters of Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot more than four months ago for holding a meeting at the same time as the CLP meeting.
“The chief minister (Ashok Gehlot) called for a meeting of the legislative party on September 25 in Jaipur, but that meeting did not happen. Ajay Maken and Kharge were there as observers from the centre. “It doesn’t matter what would have happened at the meeting, whether people agreed or disagreed; the meeting was not allowed to happen,” Pilot told PTI in an interview.
The former deputy chief minister said that notices of “prima facie indiscipline” were given to the people who didn’t show up to that meeting and instead went to another one.
“The news tells me that they have answered those notices. So far, the AICC hasn’t made any decisions or taken any steps (All India Congress Committee). “I think the best people to answer why a decision has taken so long are the disciplinary committee headed by Antony and the Congress president and leadership,” Pilot said.
The speaker filed an affidavit in the Rajasthan High Court saying that he had received 81 resignations, but only a few were given to him personally, Pilot said.
In the affidavit that the speaker filed with the high court, he said that some of the resignations were photocopies and the rest were not accepted because they were not given “of their own free will.”
He also said that this was why the speaker did not accept these resignations.
“Since the resignations were turned down because they weren’t done of their own accord. And if they weren’t given out of their own free will, whose pressure made them give them? Was there a threat, an offer, or some kind of pressure… So maybe that’s something the party needs to look into more,” Pilot said.
“An election is coming up soon, and the budget has also been presented. The party leadership has said many times that it will decide how to move forward. “As elections are coming up at the end of the year, any decisions that need to be made about the Congress party in Rajasthan should be made,” Pilot said.
He stressed that this was important if the Congress wanted to end the 25-year cycle of the Congress and the BJP taking turns running the state government.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is campaigning hard, and he said that the Congress needs to get started right away and rally workers so that “we are ready for battle.”
“The CLP meeting was called at the request of then-Congress president Sonia Gandhi ji, so this was open defiance and not following the party’s order,” Pilot said.
“The party line and discipline are the same for everyone, no matter who they are… No matter how big or small you are, discipline is the most important thing, and that’s what Sukhjinder Randhawa (AICC in-charge for Rajasthan) has been saying,” Pilot said.
“People who went against the party in September, it’s been so many months, Congress workers are asking what this unreasonable delay means, the party should make a decision, and Antony, Kharge, and the party leadership should look into it,” he said, restating his position.
At that time, in September, Maken had failed to call a meeting of MLAs to pass a one-line resolution giving the Congress president permission to choose a new leader for Rajasthan.
Gehlot later apologised to the public for not being able to get the resolution passed. After meeting with Sonia Gandhi, who was then the head of the Congress party, he decided not to run for president.
The party sent notices to Dharmendra Rathore, Shanti Dhariwal, and Mahesh Joshi, who is the chief whip of the party in the assembly, asking them to explain why they should not be kicked out. Even though the MLAs have replied to the charges against them, the party hasn’t done anything about the notices.
Maken then quit in November, and Randhawa was put in charge of the state of Rajasthan.
In a letter to party president Kharge on November 8, Maken talked about what happened on September 25 and asked Kharge to find someone else to take his place.
In December, a big fight broke out again after Gehlot said that Pilot is a “gaddar” (a traitor) and that he can’t be replaced.
Pilot had a strong reaction to Gehlot’s comments. He said that Gehlot shouldn’t have used that kind of language and that “slinging mud” at a time when the focus should be on the Kanyakumari-Kashmir Bharat Jodo Yatra wouldn’t help.
The party was in trouble when the fight between Gehlot and Pilot got worse right before the yatra entered the desert state. K.C. Venugopal’s visit to the state calmed things down, and Pilot and Gehlot posed for pictures with the AICC general secretary to show that they were on the same side.
In January, the secretary of the Rajasthan assembly told the high court that the 81 MLAs who had given resignation letters to the speaker of the Rajasthan assembly, CP Joshi, during the crisis in September had taken them back.
In response to a writ petition, the Rajasthan high court was told that the resignations given to the speaker of the assembly on September 25 were not voluntary and have been taken back.