Sachin Pilot has been around Delhi with these MLAs since the weekend.
As mystery deepens on the whereabouts of the 18 Congress legislators from Rajasthan, who have sided with Sachin Pilot in his open revolt against Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, a rebel MLA has told NDTV that they are not headed to BJP-ruled Karnataka, as speculated throughout the evening.
“No way,” a senior legislator from Team Pilot told NDTV when asked if they are going to Karnataka, in a replay of the Madhya Pradesh coup. He, however, was not willing to reveal the current location of the MLAs.
These rebels have been missing since Friday evening, when a team of Rajasthan Police’s Special Operations Group (SOG) went to one of the resorts they were camping in, in Manesar in BJP-ruled Haryana near Delhi.
The Rajasthan Police had gone to record a voice sample of Bhanwar Lal Sharma, who, according to the Congress, is heard on tape discussing bribes from the BJP as part of a conspiracy to bring down the Ashok Gehlot government. NDTV cannot verify the authenticity of these tapes.
The Rajasthan Police team was stopped briefly before being allowed inside by the Haryana Police. They returned empty-handed as the 18 MLAs were nowhere to be found.
Sources in the Rajasthan Police’s SOG believe the rebel legislators are somewhere in Delhi.
The resort politics that is being played out over Rajasthan now is similar to another young Congress leader’s exit earlier this year. Jyotiraditya Scindia changed camp in March with 22 loyalist MLAs – which led to the collapse of the Kamal Nath government in Madhya Pradesh. The MLAs had been flown in a chartered plane to a resort in Bengaluru then.
Sachin Pilot has been around Delhi with his rebel MLAs since the weekend. His running feud with Ashok Gehlot escalated after he was asked to answer questions on the alleged conspiracy to bring down the government in which he was number two. As he refused to return to Jaipur and skipped meetings called by the Chief Minister, he was removed as Deputy Chief Minister and Rajasthan Congress chief. But in Delhi, the Congress leadership continues its efforts to bring him around.
Mr Pilot, after being sacked as Deputy Chief Minister and president of the Congress unit in Rajasthan, has gone to court to challenge the move to disqualify him and 18 others from the Rajasthan assembly. The Congress says they acted against the party by defying instructions to appear at two meetings this week that were chaired by Mr Gehlot.