Sachin Pilot has “gone to a point of no return”, the Congress said today as he and his rebel squad took the party to court today. Team pilot has challenged disqualification notices served to them yesterday for “anti-party activities” after they skipped two meetings of Congress MLAs called by Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot.
Mukul Rohatgi and Harish Salve, who were top government lawyers in BJP regimes, will represent Team Pilot in court, which, the Congress said, was a big sign that the BJP is actively supporting the rebels in order to topple the Congress three months after snatching Madhya Pradesh with help from Jyotiraditya Scindia.
Sources said Priyanka Gandhi Vadra spoke to Sachin Pilot even yesterday, but drew no positive response.
This would be the Congress leader’s fourth direct outreach to the rebel, who has always been a Gandhi family favourite. Her brother Rahul Gandhi has also been in touch with him, but through emissaries.
The Congress believes some MLAs intend to return to the fold but they may now wait for the outcome of the High Court case.
Yesterday, Mr Pilot’s reassertion that he was not joining the BJP led to speculation that he was angling for a patch-up.
But party sources cast doubts on his intentions saying extra rooms had been booked at the hotel in Gurgaon where the rebels have been camping.
Sources said they had reason to suspect that Mr Pilot is merely buying time to reel in more MLAs and reach a target of 30 MLAs.
The BJP, which has 73 MLAs in the 200-member Rajasthan assembly, would need that many to score the majority mark of 101.
For now, Chief Minister Gehlot claims he has 109 MLAs. Team Pilot argues that he has far fewer MLAs than he claims.
Mr Pilot, say sources, has been cold to any compromise that does not involve him being named Chief Minister, a post he lost to veteran Mr Gehlot after the Congress won the 2018 Rajasthan election.
In a truce formulated by Rahul Gandhi, Mr Pilot, 42, settled for the post of Mr Gehlot’s deputy. Mr Pilot alleges that the Chief Minister undermined and humiliated him constantly over the next two years.
The fight boiled over when on Friday, Mr Pilot was asked to answer questions on alleged attempts to buy Congress MLAs for a coup by the BJP. Mr Gehlot had ordered the investigation last month when he put up Congress MLAs at a hotel for 10 days allegedly to keep them away from inducements by the BJP.
Mr Gehlot, who has been on the offensive against his former deputy, was yesterday reportedly asked to dial down his attacks on Mr Pilot, whom he accused of deal-making.
The Congress has accused the BJP of using its government at the centre and all possible agencies to target Mr Gehlot. The party referred to tax raids on two aides of the Chief Minister on Monday, a day after Mr Pilot went public with his rebellion.