New Delhi | Jagran News Desk: The political turmoil in Rajasthan worsened on Tuesday with the Congress sacking rebel leader Sachin Pilot from the posts of Rajasthan's deputy chief minister and the party's state unit chief.

The decision came after Pilot skipped the legislature party meeting for the second straight day. The meeting was billed as a “second chance” for Pilot, who had turned down appeals from the party's top leadership – including Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi -- to return to the fold.

After Pilot’s removal, Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot met Governor Kalraj Mishra immediately after the CLP meeting, recommending the removal of the three ministers from his cabinet. He has called a state cabinet meeting at 7.30 pm and meeting of council of Ministers at 8 pm.

The major turnaround has put the Ashok Gehlot government on the edge, just three months after the Congress lost Madhya Pradesh at the hands of the BJP.

Here's all that happened during the day

Before Pilot’s revolt, the Congress had claimed to have the support of 107 MLAs, along with 13 independents and five from smaller parties. On the other hand, BJP has 72 MLAs and its political ally RLP, has three.

The ouster of Pilot is believed to have brought down the Congress’ count to 100 - 90 MLAs, seven MLAs and three from smaller parties.

If the BJP presses for a floor test and the governor gives his assent, an interesting contest could be on the cards where the independents and those of the two-MLA Bhartiya Tribal Party (BTP) will become crucial.  

Here are the top developments on the big story:

Pilot and his two loyalists sacked

Cracking the whip on the rebel party leader after a number of failed attempts by the Congress’ top leadership woo Pilot, the party sacked Pilot as deputy CM and the party's state unit chief. His loyalists Vishvendra Singh and Ramesh Meena were also removed from the state cabinet.

Pilot has been replaced by Education Minister Govind Singh Dotasra as the new Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) chief. Ganesh Ghogra has been made Rajasthan Youth Congress president while Hem Singh Shekhawat has been appointed as Seva Dal minister.

Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewalasaid Sachin Pilot enjoyed the affection and blessings of Congress president Sonia Gandhi and was given political power at a young age.

Rajasthan Crisis: Sachin Pilot sacked as Deputy CM, state Congress chief after Congress fails to placate rebel leader

Yet, he and other ministers were trying to topple the state government as part of a BJP conspiracy, he said after the Congress Legislature Party meeting at Jaipur’s Fairmont Hotel where the Congress has hold up its 106 MLAs to avoid any untoward situation.

"It cannot be acceptable to any political party. Therefore, the Congress took the decisions with a heavy heart,” he said.

After Pilot’s removal, Abhimanyu Poonia, the president of the state unit of the National Students Union of India (NSUI), resigned. "We cannot work with a chief minister who has worked to send heads of Jat and Bishnoi families to jail. Our honesty and conscience is still alive," he said on Twitter.

‘Truth cannot be defeated’: Sachin Pilot

Breaking his silence after being removed as the deputy chief minister of Rajasthan, Pilot wrote on Twitter: “Truth can be disturbed, but it can't defeated.”

Pilot's new bio on Twitter reads, "MLA from Tonk | Former Minister of IT, Telecom & Corporate affairs, GoI |Commissioned officer Territorial Army". The senior leader has removed earlier bio which mentioned "Deputy Chief Minister of Rajasthan and President, Rajasthan Congress".

What’s next for Pilot

Sachin’s next move is not immediately clear. During the run-up to Tuesday's CLP meeting, his supporters insisted that he had no plans to join the Bharatiya Janata Party. They said their aim was a leadership change in Rajasthan.

However, media reports claimed that Pilot was planning to float his won party which would receive outside support from the BJP, putting the Gehlot government on tenterhooks.

A video clip circulated by the Pilot camp appeared to show a group of 16 Congress MLAs. In a statement issued Sunday, Pilot had claimed the support of 30 Congress MLAs and “some independents”.

The numbers are large enough number to keep the Gehlot camp on edge, even if most of the 107 Congress MLAs and independents have expressed confidence in his leadership.

The state assembly has 200 MLAs and those close to Pilot are already calling for a test of strength on the floor of the House.

Pilot playing into the hands of BJP: Gehlot

After the announcement of sacking of Pilot, Gehlot accused him of playing into the hands of the BJP. Gehlot alleged that that the BJP wanted to repeat what it had done in Madhya Pradesh.

"There is nothing in the hands of Sachin Pilot. He is playing into the hands of the BJP which is making all the arrangements,” he told reporters after meeting Governor Kalraj Mishra.

“I am very sad that horse trading was going on. It is for the first time in the country that democracy is under such grave threat,” he said.

Gehlot that he had fulfilled the rebel leaders demands by making budget announcements and "their works were done but still they were like this".

BJP, Pilot loyalists demand floor test

Both the BJP and some of the loyalist MLAs of the Pilot camp have demanded that Gehlot take a floor test to prove his government's majority in the Assembly.

BJP alleged that the residences of MLAs were being kept under police surveillance and the legislators of Bhartiya Tribal Party (BTP) "had been threatened".

The BTP, which has two MLAs in the Rajasthan assembly, has asked its legislators to remain neutral. It was earlier supporting the Gehlot government.

“Prove majority in a floor test first and then go for a cabinet reshuffle. The result of the political fight is out,” Leader of Opposition Gulab Chand Kataria told reporters.

Meanwhile, Pilot loyalist Ramesh Meena said, "A floor test should be conducted in the assembly. This will expose the claim that the Ashok Gehlot government has the support of 109 MLAs."

Senior party leader and Sardarshahr MLA Bhanwarlal Sharma too claimed that the figure of 109 being projected in the support of Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot is incorrect. The MLA said he will not join the BJP but wants a change in the leadership.

Posted By: Abhinav Gupta