The Ashok Gehlot versus Sachin Pilot fight will now shift to the courtroom. Hindustan Times has learnt that while Abhishek Manu Singhvi, Congress’ Rajya Sabha member, will appear for the Rajasthan chief minister, former solicitor general Harish Salve will appear for Pilot.
Hindustan Times had reported how Pilot first reached out to Singhvi but found out how Ashok Gehlot had already hired him for the job. Salve was NDA government’s top law officer from 1999 to 2002 and is currently based out of London, from where he fought India’s case against Pakistan in the Kulbushan Jadhav matter.
“We had to challenge it in court and that’s why we are waiting for the Rajasthan high court to hear us soon,” said a leader from Sachin Pilot’s camp, on condition of anonymity. Over the last 24 hours, there have been mixed signals from both sides – from Pilot’s appointees in local bodies being cancelled to public statements saying that the door for his return was still open. Since his removal as deputy chief minister on Tuesday, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra has been in touch with Pilot while Rahul Gandhi’s brief to his emissary KC Venugopal was to try to hold Pilot back.
“We don’t understand the duplicity of this. On one hand they say the door is open but on the other hand, the chief minister holds a press conference and says such things about his English language and the way he looks,” said the Sachin aide quoted above.
For his part, chief minister Gehlot has alleged that Pilot’s supporters were paid Rs 20 crore by the BJP. To this, Pilot’s loyalist and former BSP legislator Murari Lal Meena has responded by saying that the CM should also come clean about the money they were paid to come over to the Congress.
But it isn’t just Gehlot. Congress leader Kapil Sibal, who had earlier expressed concern about “horses bolting from the Congress’ stables”, today sounded critical of Pilot. He tweeted: “False rumours spread to malign Pilot: “I am not joining BJP. “I guess then legislators at a hotel in Manesar is merely a vacation in Haryana’s comfort zone under BJP’s watchful eye What about “ghar wapsi”?”
“He never detached himself,” said the Pilot loyalist. “Is it wrong to have grievances against the chief minister and point out what he was doing wrong? The legislators are in the Manesar hotel at their own cost because they will be arrested in Jaipur. Pilot has not held anyone hostage, they are paying their own hotel bills and some are staying at homes in Faridabad.”