Hours after Rajasthan Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot declared open rebellion and claimed that the Ashok Gehlot government in the state is in minority, Congress leader Avinash Pande on Monday said 109 MLAs have signed a letter of support to the chief minister.
Pande, the All India Congress Committee (AICC) general secretary in-charge of Rajasthan, said some other MLAs are in touch with Gehlot and they will also sign the letter.
He said a whip has been issued to all the party MLAs, asking them to attend the Congress Legislature Party meeting at 10.30 am. "Action will be taken against those who skip the meeting," Pande said.
"As many as 109 MLAs have signed the letter to express full confidence in the Congress government led by Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and in the leadership of Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi. Some other MLAs have spoken to the chief minister over the phone and they will also sign the letter," he told reporters at the CM's residence here in the wee hours.
Pande said the BJP was behind the "conspiracy" to topple the Ashok Gehlot government but it will complete its term. The BJP is trying to destabilise the Congress government and wants to repeat what they did in Madhya Pradesh. But the MLAs are fully with the government and the party, he said.
In the 200-member Rajasthan Assembly, the Congress has 107 MLAs and the BJP 72. The Congress also has the support of 10 out of 13 independents, and other party MLAs like Rashtriya Lok Dal (1), which is its ally. The Congress also considers Bhartiya Tribal Party (2) and CPI(M) (2) MLAs as their supporters.
Apart from its 72 MLAs, BJP's ally Rashtriya Loktantrik Party (RLP) has three MLAs. Pilot on Sunday claimed that the Gehlot government is in minority as over 30 Congress MLAs have "pledged support" to him.
"Rajasthan deputy CM and Congress leader Sachin Pilot not to attend Congress legislative party meeting scheduled to be held tomorrow. Pilot says Ashok Gehlot government is in minority after over 30 Congress and some independent MLAs have pledged support to Sachin Pilot," said a statement circulated via a WhatsApp group operated by Pilot's office.
Pilot's rebellion and deepening political crisis were discussed at a late night meeting at the chief minister's residence where Pande and Randeep Surjewala were present.
The party MLAs and independent legislators too reached the chief minister's residence and expressed confidence in Gehlot's leadership, the Congress said.
(With inputs from PTI)