Millennium Post

Cong asks Pilot to 'return to family', Gehlot disses him

New Delhi: Even as the Congress reiterated that the party has not closed its doors on defiant Sachin Pilot, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot on Wednesday took a jibe at his former deputy, saying that "speaking good English or being handsome is not everything". Gehlot also accused Pilot of being involved in horse-trading with the BJP to topple his government, stating: "We have the proof. Money was offered. And who gave the clarification that nothing was happening? Those who were themselves part of the conspiracy are giving clarifications."

The Congress has sought the disqualification of Pilot and 18 other dissident MLAs from the state Assembly even as it repeated that the party has not closed its doors on him.

Rajasthan Assembly Speaker C P Joshi confirmed that disqualification notices have been sent out Tuesday on the basis of the complaint made by the party. The dissidents have to reply by Friday.

But, amid this tough posturing, the Congress said the dissident MLAs can still return to the Congress fold.

Avinash Pande, the AICC in-charge of Rajasthan, indicated this in a tweet and party spokesperson Randeep Surjewala followed that up while interacting with the media in the afternoon.

Pilot, meanwhile, has said he is not joining the BJP but has not elaborated on his next move either. "I have worked very hard to bring the Congress party back in the government and defeat the BJP," he said.

"The party's doors have not closed for Pilot. May God give him good sense and he realises his mistake. I pray that he comes out of the BJP's illusory trap," Pande tweeted in Hindi.

Senior leader Surjewala said all grievances will be heard and solutions found.

"Come back to your family, sit with your family and place your view before the family," he said at Jaipur hotel where MLAs in the Gehlot camp are holed up.

He said if Pilot is not joining the BJP, he should not accept the hospitality of BJP-ruled Haryana, referring to reports that the MLAs close to the rebel leader are camping in two Gurgaon hotels. The Congress has made clear that it is going for revamp of the organisation in the state.

"Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi have given numerous opportunities to Pilot over the last 10-15 years — from being an MP to Cabinet minister and then Pradesh Congress Committee chief despite losing elections and recently the state's Deputy Chief Minister. Pilot has been encouraged by the Congress at all levels. There is hardly anyone in Congress or in BJP who have been given so many opportunities," Surjewala added.

According to party sources, the Rajasthan Chief Minister has also been informed about the party's decision and his approval has been taken in this regard. Gehlot has also been asked to maintain composure and refrain from making public statements until further notice, the sources said.

The Congress also dissolved its all district and block committees in Rajasthan in a bid to revamp the state unit of the party. Pande maintained that the new committees would be constituted soon.

The alacrity with which the Congress acted against rebel Pilot has no parallel in its recent history. The decision, described as "a difficult one" by one and all in the party, came after 72 hours of hard bargaining by both sides at the top level. Despite Pilot's posturing that his fight is for "honour and justice" — in the context of the FIR and the Special Operation Group (SOG) notice — sources said the post of the Chief Minister was at the heart of the negotiations.

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