In Sachin Pilot Vs Congress, Big Court Day, An Alleged Sting: 10 Points

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On Wednesday evening, Sachin Pilot and other rebel MLAs went to court.

Jaipur:
Whether Sachin Pilot’s rebel squad can be disqualified as MLAs is likely to be decided by the Rajasthan High Court today, a day after the group took the Congress to court over notices served to them for “anti-party” activities. Before the court hearing, the Congress will brief the media at a hotel in Jaipur where Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot has sequestered at least 100 party MLAs as he fights Sachin Pilot’s revolt. Reports suggest team Gehlot plans a big reveal on what they believe is proof of alleged deal-making by Sachin Pilot’s camp with the BJP.

Here’s your 10-point cheatsheet to this big story:

  1. Sachin Pilot and 18 Congress rebels have challenged notices that warned them of disqualification if they did not satisfactorily explain by today why they defied the party.

  2. Team Pilot is being represented in the case by two of India’s top lawyers, Mukul Rohatgi and Harish Salve – both former government lawyers in BJP regimes – who are pitted against the Congress’s Abhishek Manu Singhvi.

  3. The rebels have argued that they can’t be served such notices when the Rajasthan assembly is not in session. They have also challenged a constitutional rule that allows the speaker to disqualify any member who has “voluntarily given up his membership” which, they say, is being misused only because they skipped two meetings.

  4. If the rebel MLAs are disqualified, the majority mark will drop, making it easier for Mr Pilot’s chief adversary, Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, to win a floor test. If the rebels can avoid being disqualified and are allowed to vote as Congress members, Ashok Gehlot’s government could fall. He needs 101 MLAs to vote for him in the 200-member assembly and claims he has the support of 106.

  5. To add to the courtroom drama, the Congress may release details of alleged phone calls because of which Ashok Gehot ordered the Rajasthan Police Special Operations Group to investigate a conspiracy to dislodge his government.

  6. The Chief Minister’s supporters have alleged that Congress MLA and former cabinet minister Bhanwarlal Sharma has been caught on tape in attempts to topple the state government. However, MLA Bhanwar Lal Sharma has refuted the allegations. Audio clips apparently featuring the MLA also surfaced online. The MLA said: “The audio that has gone viral is fake. They are trying to pressure MLAs using fake audios as the Chief Minister is in trouble.”

  7. Last Friday, Sachin Pilot, the number two in the Rajasthan government, was served summons to answer questions in the investigation, which led to his revolt.

  8. Sachin Pilot has since been removed as Deputy Chief Minister and Rajasthan Congress chief by team Gehlot. But in Delhi, the Congress leadership continues its efforts to bring him around.

  9. On Wednesday evening, a day before Sachin Pilot and other rebel MLAs went to court, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra reportedly spoke to him on the phone. Her brother Rahul Gandhi also approached him through emissaries in a near-unprecedented outreach by the Gandhis. But Sachin Pilot has stayed cold to these overtures. Congress sources suspect he is buying time to reel in more Congress MLAs, enough to bring the Ashok Gehlot government down with the BJP’s help.

  10. A new twist emerged in the Congress versus Congress fight when the BJP’s top Rajasthan leader, Vasundhara Raje, was accused by an ally of making phone-calls to Congress MLAs and urging them to back Ashok Gehlot and keep a distance from Sachin Pilot.

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