Gehlot is Our Leader, Says Rebel Congress MLA Linked to 'Plot' to Topple Rajasthan Govt

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A Congress MLA loyal to Rajasthan leader Sachin Pilot on Monday said the Ashok Gehlot-led government in the state, hours after the now-sacked deputy chief minister met Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi to work out a truce ahead of the crucial Assembly session on August 14.

"The Rajasthan government is safe," said Bhanwar Lal Sharma. "Sachin Pilot spoke to Rahul Gandhi today."

Sharma is one of the 18 legislators who backed Pilot in the power tussle with Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot.

Sharma, who met Gehlot earlier in the day, expressed faith in his leadership. "I am the same leader as I was before, I have no grudges now," he said. "I am with the Congress. I am with Ashok Gehlot."

After the meeting at Gehlot's official residence, Sharma said things will get clear by Tuesday. He said other rebel MLAs should also return to Jaipur. The meeting took place hours after Pilot met Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi in New Delhi.

After meeting Gehlot, Sharma said, "It was an internal matter, which has now been resolved. There was no resentment against the party or the chief minister. The issue was related to the work of my areas. I have been assured that all work will be done."

Sharma, who along with the other rebel lawmakers was sequestered at a hotel in Manesar since July 13, denied any claims of a camp and said he was not taken hostage by any person or party.

"There was no camp, nobody was a captive. Bhanwar Lal can never be a captive. I went there willingly, I have come here willingly," he said.

Sharma had earlier said he will not join the BJP, but wants a change in the leadership. He had said that situation will get clear once the floor test takes place. The seven-time MLA had then blamed Congress national general secretary Avinash Pande for the crisis.

The Rajasthan Police had earlier lodged an FIR against Sharma for the "plot" to topple the state government. He was suspended from the party after three audio clips having purported conversation of the "conspiracy" had surfaced. The party had alleged that Sharma was heard in two of the audio clips.

About the charges, Sharma said he has already rejected these. "I do not know about the audio tapes and I do not know Gajendra Singh or Sanjay Jain," he said on Monday.

Jain, referred to as a BJP leader by the Congress, was allegedly heard talking to Sharma and Gajendra Singh, who the Congress claims is Union Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, in the audio tapes. Shekhawat had rebutted the allegations.