Rajasthan political crisis: A month after rebellion, Sachin Pilot and loyal MLAs return to party fold; here’s a timeline

The rebellion by Sachin Pilot and MLAs loyal to him came only months after Jyotiraditya Scindia left the Congress along with 22 MLAs, toppling the Madhya Pradesh government

FP Staff August 11, 2020 15:56:57 IST
Rajasthan political crisis: A month after rebellion, Sachin Pilot and loyal MLAs return to party fold; here’s a timeline

Former Rajasthan deputy chief minister Sachin Pilot and some of the rebel Congress MLAs loyal to him met Priyanka Gandhi, KC Venugopal and other party leaders on Monday. A party statement has also said that Pilot will work in the interest of the party, and a three-member committee will be set up to address the grievances of Pilot and other aggrieved MLAs.

These developments mark a thaw in the political crisis in the state that started with allegations of horse-trading and an FIR.

Here is a timeline of events that unfolded as political uncertainty reigned in Rajasthan, only months after the Congress was ousted in Madhya Pradesh with the exit of Jyotiraditya Scindia and legislators loyal to him:

10 July: The Special Operations Group (SOG) of Rajasthan Police sought Pilot's time for recording his statements in connection with the alleged attempts to topple the Congress government in the state. A letter to the same effect had been sent to Pilot. Similar letters were also sent to Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot too.

11 July: The SOG arrested two persons in connection with alleged attempts to destabilise state government ahead of Rajya Sabha polls, Rajasthan Additional Director General Ashok Kumar Rathore said. They were identified as Bharat Malani and Ashok Singh.

Meanwhile, Gehlot accused the BJP of "buying" MLAs by offering them up to Rs 25 crore, a charge denied by the opposition party and its ally Rashtriya Loktantrik Party (RLP), which have claimed that "infighting" inside Congress was at play. They also accused Gehlot of not trusting his own MLAs.

12 July: As many as 30 Congress MLAs and some independent legislators who in touch with Pilot pledged their support to him. Sources told ANI that the former Rajasthan Congress chief and some of his loyal MLAs reached Delhi to meet the party high command, even though his earlier request for an appointment was not met with a response.

The three Congress MLAs include Harish Choudhary, Rohit Bohra and Danish Abrar, who are said to be close aides of Pilot and went to Delhi clarified that their trips were personal in nature.

Meanwhile, around 75 MLAs, including ministers, were present in a meeting at Gehlot's residence. Congress leaders Randeep Surjewala and Ajay Maken met Gehlot to chalk out a strategy for Congress Legislative Party (CLP) meeting to be held the next day. They were also the observers appointed to bring the situation in the state under control.

13 July: Pilot, 19 other MLAs skipped the Congress Legislature Party meeting held at Gehlot’s Jaipur residence.

Ved Solanki, Rakesh Parik, Murari Lal Meena, JR Khatana, Indraj Gurjar, Gajendra Singh Shaktavat, Hareesh Meena, Deependra Singh Shekhawat, Bhanwar Lal Sharma, Gajraj Khatana, Vijedra Ola, Hemaram Choudhary, PR Meena, Ramesh Meena, Vishvendra Singh, Mukesh Bhakar, Suresh Modi, Virendra Choudhary and Amar Singh Jatav were not present at the meeting.

Ahead of the meeting, senior Congress leader and spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said, "On behalf of Congress leadership, including Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi, I convey that doors of Congress party are always open for Sachin Pilot or any member."

Rajasthan Food and Civil Supplies Minister Ramesh Meena said that he stands with Pilot.

14 July: After a CLP meeting at Jaipur’s Fairmont hotel, it was decided that Sachin Pilot would be removed from the posts of Deputy Chief Minister and Rajasthan Pradesh Congress Committee chief. Vishvendra Singh and Ramesh Meena were also removed from ministerial posts for attempting to topple the government “by getting entangled within the trap of BJP”, PTI reported.

Sachin Pilot changed his bio on Twitter and later stated, "Truth can be disturbed, not defeated”. His nameplate was removed from the party's state headquarters in Jaipur. His new bio on Twitter read, "MLA from Tonk| Former Minister of IT, Telecom & Corporate affairs,GoI |Commissioned officer Territorial Army".

15 July: Pilot ended speculation about him joining the BJP in an ANI interview. A notice was issued to him and 18 MLAs for not attending CLP meetings on 13 and 14 July and a response was sought within two days.

A total of 59 office bearers of the Tonk unit of the Congress resigned in protest against Pilot’s “undemocratic removal as state unit chief". All India Congress Committee (AICC) General Secretary and party in-charge for Rajasthan Avinash Pande dissolved all cells and departments of the state party unit.

16 July: The petition, filed by Pilot and 18 MLAs of his faction, challenging the disqualification notice issued to them by the state Assembly Speaker on 14 July, was deferred by the Rajasthan High Court.

17 July: Hearing of petition challenging disqualification notices deferred to 20 July.

High drama ensued in Manesar, where a team of Special Operations Group (SOG) of Rajasthan Police that was waiting outside the resort in Manesar where Sachin Pilot camp Congress MLAs were staying, was allowed to enter the resort at night after arriving at the spot in the evening. Dotasra alleged that the police was made to wait so that the BJP can move the rebel MLAs out of the resort through a secret door.

Meanwhile, MLAs loyal to Gehlot were shifted to Hotel Fairmont in Jaipur.

20 July: Rajasthan Congress MLA Giriraj Singh Malinga alleged that Pilot offered him Rs 35 crore to not vote for Congress in the Rajya Sabha polls. The allegation was rejected by Pilot who said it was done to malign his image and he will take "strictest possible legal action" against the MLA.

21 July: Advocate Mukul Rohtagi, representing Pilot at Rajasthan High Court, said during a hearing that "less time given for reply than as stated in rules." The court said it will pronounce an order on 24 July.

22 July: Rajasthan Legislative Assembly Speaker CP Joshi approached the Supreme Court against the interim order passed by the Rajasthan High Court. Joshi, in his Special Leave Petition (SLP), said that the impugned interim order has interdicted and restrained the Speaker from calling of replies and conducting hearing of the disqualification proceedings pending against the respondents till 24 July.

Pilot too filed a caveat in the apex court to ensure that no orders are passed on Rajasthan Assembly Speaker CP Joshi's petition against High Court interim orders without hearing Pilot and his supporting MLAs.

23 July: Gehlot wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi alleging that "despicable attempts" had been made "to destabilise elected governments through horse-trading" in an insult to mandate of people and violation of constitutional values.

CP Joshi submitted before the Supreme Court that Rajasthan High Court had no jurisdiction to intervene on the disqualification notice issued to Sachin Pilot and other MLAs until a decision was taken on the same.

24 July: Rajasthan High Court made Centre a party in the case and also directed to maintain 'status quo' on the disqualification proceeding against Pilot and 18 other MLAs of his camp pending before the State Assembly Speaker.

Meanwhile, Gehlot’s request to hold an Assembly session at the earliest was rejected by the Rajasthan Governor. The Secretariat said that the date on which the Assembly session is to be convened is not mentioned in the cabinet note and no approval has been given by Rajasthan cabinet. It said 21-day notice is required for the session to be called according to normal procedures.

Rajasthan cabinet meeting held at Gehlot's residence over the holding of the state Assembly session.

27 July: CP Joshi withdrew his Supreme Court plea.

29 July: CP Joshi filed a fresh petition in the Supreme Court challenging the 24 July order of the Rajasthan High Court.

30 July: Gehlot expressed confidence that his government will complete its full term and said "unhappy MLAs" should attend the assembly session as they have been elected on Congress symbol.

31 July: Rajasthan Assembly Congress chief whip Mahesh Joshi approached the Supreme Court, mentioning in his plea that the Rajasthan High Court order was an interference with the authority of the Speaker.

Rajasthan Congress MLAs supporting Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, who were lodged at Fairmont Hotel in the Jaipur, were shifted to Jaisalmer.

4 August: Rajasthan Special Operations Group (SOG) transferred the alleged horse-trading case to Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) while taking off Section 124A IPC (Sedition) from the case based on legal opinion.

10 August: While Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra met Pilot, Sonia Gandhi spoke to Gehlot in an attempt to ensure that the political crisis may be ended with an amicable solution ahead of the Assembly session.

Some of the rebel Rajasthan Congress MLAs met senior leaders of the party and have been told to tender an unconditional apology, following which they are free to meet the top leadership and express grievances, sources told ANI.

Hours later, Pilot said he is "committed to working in the interest of the Congress party and the Congress government in Rajasthan" and "a three-member committee" will be formed to address the issues raised by Pilot and "the aggrieved" MLAs.

11 August: Former Rajasthan Deputy chief minister Sachin Pilot and other MLAs supporting him held a meeting with Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, party leaders Ahmed Patel and KC Venugopal in Delhi, signalling a possible end to the political crisis in Rajasthan.

With inputs from agencies

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