Much to the relief of rebel Congress MLAs including Sachin Pilot, Rajasthan high court deferred its verdict over the disqualification of leaders in question till Friday, July 24. On Tuesday, the court asked the Legislative Assembly Speaker CP Joshi to delay handing over disqualification notice to dissident Congress MLAs till Friday. The court also postponed its judgment with regard to the writ petition filed by former deputy chief minister Sachin Pilot and 18 dissident Congress leaders till July 24, giving them 4-day time.
Last week, Congress party filed a petition against a group of 18 MLAs, led by Sachin Pilot, former Rajasthan deputy chief minister under the anti-defection provision of the constitution. The petition was moved citing the charges of being absent from legislative meetings, conspiring to bring down the government, staying mysteriously inaccessible which raised the suspicion about their motives, as grounds for disqualification.
The pilot was thrown out of the party and sacked from the position of deputy chief minister and the president of the Rajasthan state unit after he opposed Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot. Pilot’s increasing criticism was seen by Congress as a strategy to topple the exiting Congress government, making way for BJP to gain a majority and form its government.
In his defense Pilot clarified that he never intended to leave the Congress party and he and the other 18 rebel MLAs were merely exercising their right to criticize party leadership and Ghelot’s ways of working.
“Pulling down a government and pulling down a chief minister was not the same thing,” Harish Salve, representing the petitioners, said.
To resolve the political crisis in Rajasthan, the party members conducted a cabinet meeting, followed by the Congress Legislature Party (CLP) meeting which began at around 1 pm at a hotel located on the outskirts of Jaipur where the Congress MLAs supportingGehlot’s government had been staying. The meeting was believed to focus on the future strategy of the party with respect to the court’s judgment on the disqualification of dissident party members. Senior Congress leaders including national general secretary and Rajasthan in-charge Avinash Pande, KC Venugopal, Ajay Maken, Randeep Surjewala, Vivek Bansal along with Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot attended the meeting. This is the third meeting of the CLP in the last week. Senior Congress leader Salman Khurshid urged the state party member to look for an honorable way to deal with the ongoing political clash in Rajasthan. Khurshid hinted at the party leaders to consider reconciliation as an option. He said that he was deeply hurt by the turn of events, especially as he knew Sachin Pilot, son of his very dear friend late Congress leader Rajesh Pilot, since his childhood.
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