Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram has confirmed the news that Sachin Pilot spoke to him over phone. Chidambaram said that he told Pilot that party leadership has publicly invited him for a meeting and all issues can be discussed. As such, he should seize the opportunity.
The Congress’s top leadership, the Gandhis, have reached out to the rebel leader several times over the past few days but Sachin Pilot has been largely unresponsive. This is the first known instance of Pilot dialing any senior Congress leader. Besides Chidambaram, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra also reportedly spoke to Pilot on Wednesday evening.
Pilot also spoke to Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi, who is on the opposing side of a courtroom battle between the rebels and the Congress. Pilot and 18 MLAs have taken the Congress to court over disqualification notices served to them for “anti-party activities”. Pilot had earlier been removed as Deputy Chief Minister and Rajasthan Congress chief. Action taken in Rajasthan has moved on a parallel track with the Congress’s reach-out attempts in Delhi.
While a section of Congress leaders said Pilot had “reached a point of no return” by going to court, the party’s Randeep Singh Surjewala, sent from Delhi to handle the crisis in Jaipur, has again said that “doors were open for whoever wanted to come back”.
Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot had been asked to dial down his attacks on Pilot, whom he has accused of conspiring with the BJP and “making deals” to buy MLAs for a coup. Gehlot was to address a press conference today but it was Surjewala who briefed the media on audio tapes allegedly of rebel MLAs plotting against the Congress government. Sources said, Surjewala held a closed-door meeting with the Chief Minister and urged him not to make any public statement against his former deputy.
Top Congress sources say Rahul Gandhi is keen to retain Pilot, who was a part of his close circle of aides along with Jyotiraditya Scindia, who quit the party in March and switched to the BJP.
Pilot on Wednesday had re-emphasised that he is not joining the BJP. While many in the Congress read it as a positive signal, a section suspected he is buying time to win over more MLAs to his camp.