New Delhi/Jaipur: The Rajasthan political saga continued on Monday with chief minister Ashok Gehlot and his former deputy trading barbs even as a Congress MLA alleged that Sachin Pilot had offered him the “going rate” to join the BJP. Mr Pilot dismissed the allegation as “baseless and vexatious” and claimed that it was an attempt to stifle the “legitimate concerns” he has raised against the party leadership in the state.
Congress MLA from Rajasthan Giriraj Singh Malinga claimed that talks were held at Mr Pilot’s residence and, subsequently, he alerted Mr Gehlot about the conspiracy to topple the Congress government.
“I had a talk with Sachinji. He offered me money to join the BJP, but I refused, saying I will not join the saffron party,” Mr Malinga told reporters.
Though he did not disclose the amount he was allegedly offered, questioned as to whether it was between Rs 30 crore and Rs 35 crore, Mr Malinga said he was offered the “going rate”.
Reacting to his allegation, Mr Pilot said he was saddened but not surprised.
“I’m saddened but not surprised to be at receiving end of such baseless, vexatious allegations being levelled against me. This attempt further aims at defaming me and attack my credibility. The narrative is being redirected to avoid addressing the main issue,” he said in a statement.
Mr Pilot said he will be taking “appropriate and strictest possible legal action” against Mr Malinga, a former Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) MLA from Badi, who along with five other legislators of the Mayawati-led party, was inducted into the Congress in September last year.
Chief minister Mr Gehlot too was not to be left behind. In a direct attack, Mr Gehlot said he knew that his former deputy Sachin Pilot was “good for nothing”.
Using the Hindi word nikamma, he said, “I knew that he was useless, good for nothing, and was only there to instigate people to fight. I am not here to sell vegetables, I am the CM.”
Meanwhile, in the Rajasthan high court, which resumed hearing a plea by Mr Pilot and other rebel MLAs against the disqualification notices issued to them by the Assembly Speaker, Abhishek Manu Singhvi, counsel for the Speaker, argued that the petition was premature as a decision was yet to be taken on disqualifying the MLAs from the House.
The hearing remained inconclusive and Chief Justice Indrajit Mahanty said it will be concluded Tuesday. The order is also likely to be pronounced on Tuesday.
In another development, Union minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat was served a notice by the Special Operations Group (SOG) of the Rajasthan Police in an investigation into allegations of a conspiracy to pull down the Rajasthan government.
Mr Shekhawat said that he is ready to face an investigation but the police should first check the authenticity of the audio clips, which the Congress alleges has his voice. “I first want them to check the authenticity of the audio clips. With whose permission was it recorded? Who recorded it? First, they should come out with its authenticity,” Mr Shekhawat said.