A summons asking Rajasthan’s deputy chief minister Sachin Pilot to appear for questioning in a probe into attempts to destabilize the Congress government in the state is believed to have been the last straw that pushed him to break ties with Ashok Gehlot, sources said on Sunday.
Pilot reached Delhi on Sunday morning, a day after he received the probe letter, to meet the Congress high command and his camp has claimed the support of 23 MLAs. The Congress is trying to pacify factions led by him and Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot to save itself more embarrassment as well as the party's government in the state, sources said on Sunday.
Pilot was summoned by the Rajasthan Special Operations Group for questioning in an investigation that was launched after allegations were made of the BJP poaching Congress MLAs during the Rajya Sabha elections for three seats.
Two BJP members were arrested and an FIR was registered based on phone tapping. The transcript of the call said the "Chief Minister and Deputy Chief Minister are having a fight" and "the Deputy Chief Minister says he will be CM (Chief Minister)".
Sources said that Pilot after receiving the summons first spoke to Congress treasurer Ahmed Patel late Saturday night, and then decided to come to Delhi.
He has since gone incommunicado and is not taking phone calls from any Congress leader, including his friends in the party.
On the other hand, the Gehlot camp claims that the Chief Minister has the support of 103 MLAs and his government the required numbers in the state Assembly. Gehlot also denied that the summons was targeted at Pilot, and said he as well as the party’s chief and deputy chief whips, had also received the same letters.
The sources added that the Congress was trying to pacify both the camps to save the party from embarrassment.
The MLAs from the Pilot camp are said to be lodged at different places, with about a dozen at ITC Grand in Gurugram, and a few others are at ITC Maurya in Delhi. According to sources, 16 Congress MLAs and three independents are in Delhi with Pilot.
According to the sources, MLA P.R. Meena, considered to be from the Pilot group, had sought to meet Sonia Gandhi to apprise her of the "step-motherly treatment given to them by the Ashok Gehlot government in Rajasthan".
Meanwhile, Chief Minister Gehlot has called a meeting of all MLAs at his official residence in Jaipur late on Sunday and asked them to give a letter of support to him. Senior ministers have been roped in this regard.
Gehlot, sources said, has spoken with Sonia Gandhi, Rajasthan party affairs incharge Avinash Pandey, and Congress General Secretary (Organisation) K.C. Venugopal to apprise them of developments in his state.