Congress leader Sachin Pilot, in the spotlight after his former colleague Jitin Prasada crossed over to the BJP, today rubbished a BJP leader’s comment that he was next. He also denied receiving any feelers from the BJP.
Rita Bahuguna Joshi, a Congress leader for 25 years before she joined the BJP, was quoted as saying that she had spoken to Sachin Pilot and he would join the BJP soon.
“Rita Bahuguna Joshi has said she has spoken to Sachin. She might have spoken to Sachin Tendulkar. She doesn’t have the courage to speak to me,” Mr Pilot told reporters who asked him to respond to Ms Joshi saying he was “uncomfortable” in the Congress.
Jitin Prasada quit the Congress on Wednesday saying he no longer felt he could function or help people in that party and describing the BJP as the “only national party” in the country today.
Speculation about Mr Pilot’s exit has persisted long after he was persuaded by Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi to end his revolt last year against Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot.
The former deputy Chief Minister wants a bigger share in the Rajasthan government and party organization but Ashok Gehlot has resisted such moves so far.
MLAs close to Mr Pilot have flagged the delay in a cabinet expansion and appointments by Mr Gehlot.
Mr Pilot recently reminded the party of its assurance that it would look into his demands. While persuading him to end his rebellion, the leadership had also set up a committee to suggest course-correction in Rajasthan.
“It has now been 10 months. I was given to understand that there would be swift action by the committee, but now half of the term is done, and those issues haven’t been resolved. It is unfortunate that so many of the party workers who worked and gave their all for getting us the mandate are not being heard,” said Mr Pilot told the Hindustan Times on Monday.
As Jitin Prasada left two days later, the Congress said on Mr Pilot: “There has to be a turnaround time. Sachin Pilot has to be patient.”
The three-member panel appointed to tackle Mr Pilot’s demands has not met since August last, say sources.
In the Congress’s Rajasthan stand-off, Mr Pilot, along with MLAs supporting him, left Jaipur and camped near Delhi for weeks.
Mr Gehlot won the battle of nerves, claiming the support of just enough MLAs to stay in power. Mr Pilot finally announced his return to Rajasthan after the Gandhis reportedly assured him that his grievances would be addressed.