Sachin Pilot always welcome in Congress: Randeep Surjewala

Senior congress leader Randeep Surjewala and Ajay Maken arriving at Jaipur airport. PTI photo

Jaipur: The Congress on Monday said its doors remain open for Sachin Pilot, the rebel leader who claimed that he has the support of over 30 party MLAs in the state’s 200-member assembly.

“Doors are open for Sachin Pilot and other MLAs,” senior leader Randeep Surjewala told reporters here ahead of a crucial meeting of party MLAs.

The Congress Legislature Party meeting began about three hours later than scheduled, with ministers and MLAs flashed victory signs for the cameras.

The Congress said 109 MLAs have already expressed support for Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, rejecting the claim by Deputy Chief Minister and the party’s state unit president Sachin Pilot that the senior leader does not have the majority.

About 100 MLAs had walked into the chief minister’s residence by 12.30 pm, an hour before the meeting actually started.

But some MLAs considered close to Pilot had not arrived till then. These included G R Khatana, Harish Meena, Ramesh Meena, Vishvendra Singh, Ved Prakash, Mukesh Bhakar and Ramnivas Gawriya

Striking a conciliatory note at a press conference, Surjewala said the MLAs who have not yet turned up in Jaipur can call Avinash Pande, the AICC general secretary in-charge of Rajasthan.

He said the party’s top leadership spoke to Pilot several times in the last 72 hours.

Surjewala said differences in a family can be resolved within the family, suggesting that Pilot and other MLAs should come and discuss grievances at party forums.

“When a member of the family gets annoyed, he does not make the family fall but sits with family members and resolves the issue,” he said.

“Doors are open for Sachin Pilot and other MLAs. They will be heard and solutions will be found. This is the discipline of the party,” the AICC spokesperson said.

The Congress had rushed Pande, Surjewala and Ajay Maken to Jaipur as observers at the meeting, amid a power tussle between its two Rajasthan leaders.

The party had issued a whip ahead of the meeting, indicating disciplinary action against any MLA who failed to turn up.

In a statement, Pilot, however, had made clear that he would not attend the meeting. He also claimed that he had the support of over 30 Congress MLAs and some independents.

Surjewala said the Congress government in the state is stable and in majority. Surjewala targeted Prime minister Narendra Modi, Union Home minister Amit Shah for the Income Tax raids on the premises of some people linked to the Congress in Rajasthan.

He said the Income Tax department, Enforcement Directorate and Central Bureau of Investigation are the BJP’s “frontal departments”, but such raids will not topple the government.

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