Rajasthan crisis: ‘If a gen secy is on mission…’, Gehlot loyalist targets Maken
Jaipur, Sep 26: Rajasthan minister Shanti Dhariwal on Monday launched a frontal attack on Congress' state in-charge Ajay Maken, alleging that he was involved in a conspiracy to remove Ashok Gehlot as chief minister and was canvassing for Sachin Pilot.
With the party's bitter internal feud spilling into the open, Maken, who was sent as a central observer, had earlier in the day criticised MLAs loyal to Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot for placing conditions for the resolution to be taken up in the legislature party meeting on deciding the next CM.
Maken had also said that holding a parallel meeting and not attending the official meeting of the legislature party is "indiscipline".
Soon after Maken briefed Congress president Sonia Gandhi in the national capital about the political developments in the state, Dhariwal, a key Gehlot-loyalist, called a press conference at his residence here and accused party general secretary Maken of acting in a partisan manner. "My allegation against the general secretary and state in-charge (Maken) is that he was talking to the MLAs here in a partisan manner. For many days there were continuous reports that he used to ask for campaigning in favour of Sachin Pilot. "He used to ask MLAs to join him (Pilot) and we have proof of this," he alleged.
The minister further said, "We are soldiers of Sonia Gandhi. I have not been accused of indiscipline even once in the last 50 years. ''If the party general secretary and in-charge has come up with a mission to make such people (who rebel against the party) as the chief minister, then the MLAs were bound to be angry." Party observers Maken and Mallikarjun Kharge Khargere returned to Delhi and briefed Sonia Gandhi after the failure to hold the legislature party meeting due to the revolt by the MLAs loyal to Gehlot.
On whether they suspected a "conspiracy" to remove Gehlot, Dhariwal told reporters, "It was 100 per cent. And in this conspiracy general secretary (incharge) was involved. "I am not saying for others. I am accusing the general secretary only. There is no allegation on Kharge sahib. He is an honest and unbiased person."
The minister said that no one is challenging Congress President Sonia Gandhi and whosoever she says will be the CM. When asked why the MLAs did not attend the legislature party meeting, he said, "As the MLAs were going to come to me, telephone calls were coming that first listen to us... ."
The meeting of the Congress Legislature Party was to be held at the chief minister's residence on Sunday night to decide on Gehlot's successor. But over 80 MLAs converged at Parliamentary Affairs Minister Dhariwal's bungalow and then went to meet Speaker of the Assembly Dr. CP Joshi. They submitted their resignations to him, opposing any move to pick Pilot as the next chief minister.
The CLP meeting was called after Gehlot declared his candidature for the party president's post.