Sachin Pilot dismisses reports of being in touch with BJP leaders

AICC Rajasthan in-charge Ajay Maken says cabinet expansion of the Gehlot government soon

While former Rajasthan Congress chief Sachin Pilot on Friday dismissed reports of BJP leaders being in touch with him, the All India Congress Committee (AICC) in-charge for Rajasthan Ajay Maken asserted that there would soon be a cabinet expansion of the Ashok Gehlot-led government.

The AICC general secretary also played down reports of Mr. Pilot being ‘angry’ with the party.

“When I am here, how is it possible that views of the MLAs are not heard? We are taking future steps after talking to everyone and ascertaining their views. The vacant posts that are there, be they in the Cabinet or the Boards of Commissions, appointments will happen very soon,” Mr. Maken said on the sidelines of a symbolic protest against the continuous fuel price hike.

On his part, Mr. Pilot took part in a protest against fuel hike in Jaipur and categorically rejected the claims that Congress-turned-BJP leader Rita Bahuguna Joshi had spoken to him.

“I also heard that Rita Bahuguna Joshi had spoken to Sachin. Maybe she spoke to Sachin Tendulkar. She doesn’t have the courage to speak to me,” Mr. Pilot quipped to reporters at the protest venue.

Amid speculation that the former Rajasthan Deputy Chief Minister could be the next to exit from the Congress after Jitin Prasada, Mr. Maken said he is in regular touch with Mr Pilot.

“I speak to him regularly [Mr Pilot]. If he was angry, then would he have spoken to me,” Mr. Maken said.

However, a source close to Mr. Pilot told The Hindu that the Pilot camp is not happy that the Congress High Command has not been able to ‘deliver’ on the promises made to him and his supporters even after 10 months.

After his unsuccessful revolt against Mr Gehlot, the Congress had removed Mr. Pilot both from the post of the Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) chief as well as Deputy Chief Minister. The MLAs and the ministers, who support him, were also stripped of all official positions.

Last August, the AICC had formed a three-member committee with Congress general secretary (organisation), K.C. Venugopal, Mr. Maken and Ahmed Patel, to look into the grievances of Mr Pilot. However the panel made little progress due to Mr. Patel’s prolonged hospitalisation due to COVID-19 and his subsequent death. 

While the pro-Gehlot MLAs are resisting the return of Mr. Pilot’s supporters in the State government, the AICC is said to be working on a formula that will ensure an important party position for Mr Pilot and a few portfolios for his supporters in the State government. But before any deal is announced, the party High Command has to get both sides on the same page and that appears difficult as the Gehlot camp has tightened its grip over the party as well as the government.

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