Getting MLAs to switch was Maken’s Pilot project: Mantri | India News

JAIPUR: Congress’s game of thrones in Rajasthan became further embroiled in intrigue on Monday after parliamentary affairs minister and Ashok Gehlot loyalist Shanti Dhariwal alleged a “100% conspiracy” against the chief minister by AICC’s state-in-charge Ajay Maken and the former’s bete noire Sachin Pilot.
“A Congress general secretary is canvassing for a person who, despite being the deputy chief minister and Pradesh Congress Committee president at one time, claimed sitting in Manesar back in 2020 that the party’s government in the state had become a minority,” Dhariwal said at an unscheduled presser. “Our MLAs won’t tolerate attempts to reward those who betrayed the party.”

Accusing Maken of approaching MLAs to campaign for Pilot as the next CM, Dhariwal said that he had proof to back his allegation.
On whether he was levelling these allegations against both of AICC’s designated observers to Sunday’s cancelled Congress Legislative (CLP) Party meeting, the minister clarified that Maken’s colleague Mallikarjun Kharge was a man of “unimpeachable integrity”.
He said of the 108 Congress MLAs, only 20 turned up for the CLP meeting. “This proves the support, or lack of it, for Pilot.”
Dhariwal’s salvo at Maken and Pilot came hours after he contested allegation that legislators owing allegiance to Gehlot had gathered at his residence on Sunday for a “parallel meeting” convened by him instead of proceeding to the CLP discussion that was to take a call on Gehlot’s successor as CM.
The minister said the 92 MLAs who subsequently visited the Speaker to resign had turned up at his residence on their own to voice their apprehensions about the CLP meeting adopting a one-line resolution that might pave the road to the chief ministership for someone who once “tried to backstab the party”.
“I am the parliamentary affairs minister; so I just entertained the MLAs who came to my place,” Dhariwal said, claiming he wasn’t even aware if they consulted the chief minister before making their move.
“I have completed 50 years in politics, never flouted party discipline in this time and won’t do so now. As a group, we have always accepted the decisions of the party high command, but we do have the right to express our views.”
Dhariwal’s residence remained the port of call for Gehlot loyalists on Monday as well, with the procession including his ministerial colleague Ramlal Jat, and MLAs Dinesh Abrar, Chetan Dudi, Rohit Bhora and Rafiq Khan.
Sources said the number of MLAs who submitted their resignation to the Speaker late Sunday might have been fewer than 92 had four to five of them received a response from Pilot, whom they had tried to contact but failed. These MLAs are not part of the group of 18 that had sided with Pilot during the 2020 revolt against Gehlot.
“We were in Jaipur to attend the CLP meet at the chief minister’s residence, followed by dinner. By 2pm, we received calls from ministers Mahesh Joshi, Subhash Garg and Rajasthan Tourism Development Corporation chairman Dharmendra Rathore that we have to report at parliamentary affairs minister Dhariwal’s residence at 5pm. We then learnt that Gehlot loyalists are taking a detour from the official party line,” said one of the MLAs who switched camps at the last hour.