The decision, which came two days after former Union minister Pilot mounted an open rebellion against the Gehlot government, was a “sad” one that the party felt “compelled” to take, he said in a media address.
He cited five reasons for the decision.
‘A BJP bid to unseat Congress govt’
Gehlot alleged that a horse-trading conspiracy by the BJP was being hatched over the past six months to topple his government, adding that some of his Congress colleagues had “come under their trap”. “But BJP’s attempt to destabilise government like in Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh could not be fulfilled. For the first time, there is a government in the country that destabilises elected governments and topples them,” he told reporters.
‘MLAs rejected olive branch’
Gehlot said all the rebel MLAs were given the opportunity to air their grievances at two meetings of the Congress Legislative Party, held Monday and Tuesday in the presence of central party observers, but they didn’t attend. He said some of the “rebel MLAs held captive” at a hotel in Manesar wanted to join the meeting, but were unable to because Haryana has a BJP government in office.
‘People deserve good governance’
The resort where the rebel MLAs are staying was arranged by the BJP, Gehlot said. “What option does the government have in such a situation? We have promised good governance, we should fulfil that rather than indulging in internal fights,” he added. “It is sad to see someone trying to topple the government at a time when we are in the middle of a deadly pandemic,” Gehlot said.
‘Pilot made irresponsible statements’
Gehlot said Pilot had been making irresponsible statements in public. “Despite the fact that his behaviour in the past six months was not good, I did not complain about it. Every day, he used to tweet and give out statements. If someone is a chief minister, his duty is to understand public sentiment, ensure the government stays together. I have colleagues in the cabinet and no one is the boss… The MLAs, irrespective of the group they belong to, I have worked with all of them and given them their due.”
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‘They are blackmailing us’
No one is happy with the situation, including the high-command, but the rebel MLAs refused to attend the meeting despite being given several chances, Gehlot said. “We tried everything, but when we saw they have made a deal with the BJP and then there were talks of floating a new party after the MLAs didn’t agree. Breaking a party is illegal under law, they are blackmailing (us). They want a floor test in the assembly when we have complete majority,” Gehlot added.
Reshuffle likely Thursday
The Rajasthan chief minister has now called a meeting of his cabinet to discuss a reshuffle as two Pilot loyalists have also been stripped of their ministries. A cabinet expansion in the state is expected by Thursday.
Pilot rebelled against the Congress government Sunday, the second young turk of the party to do so since March when Jyotiraditya Scindia defected to the BJP with over 20 MLAs. While Pilot has been removed as deputy CM and state party chief, he remains a member of the Congress.
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