Sachin Pilot today dismissed as “laughable” BJP-backed independent Rajya Sabha candidate Subhash Chandra’s claim of Congress MLAs cross-voting for him during Friday’s elections for the upper house of parliament. “He has been fooled by the BJP into contesting and he will be humiliated,” the Rajasthan Congress leader told NDTV.
“Subhashji, this is not a TV series or entertainment. This is serious business,” Sachin Pilot said, taking a dig at the Zee chairman, who even reached out to him.
He spoke shortly after the media baron claimed that four Congress MLAs would back him and also appealed to Sachin Pilot to seize the chance to “take revenge or send a message” by voting for him.
Mr Chandra said Sachin Pilot would not be able to become Chief Minister till 2028 if he missed the opportunity. “His father was my friend. He has an opportunity now that he is a young, popular leader. He can use this as an opportunity to take revenge or send a message,” said the media baron.
Sachin Pilot said the Congress has enough to win a third Rajya Sabha, “more than what we require”.
“If Mr Chandra has said he will get four votes, he should spell out who they are. Every single party MLA has to show their votes, so there is no question of a party MLA cross-voting,” said the Congress leader.
There are four Rajya Sabha seats in Rajasthan and in the 200-member assembly, each candidate needs 41 votes to win.
The Congress has 108 MLAs and the BJP has 71 votes. The BJP is in a position to win one seat and has 30 surplus votes; to win a second seat, it needs another 11.
The Congress is in a position to win two and for a third seat, needs 15 more votes. To guard its flock, the party has put up all its MLAs at a resort.
“No matter how many MLAs that (Mr Chandra) says they have, the Congress and all independent MLAs are together. We need 123 and we have way more,” Mr Pilot said.
“They are all in one place so there is no undue pressure on them,” he said. “I don’t think personally this is the right way forward. But this has become par for the course.”
On Mr Chandra claiming enough Congress members are resentful of the party to support him in the Rajya Sabha election, Mr Pilot said: “No one will fall for his trap. He is desperate. There is no way he could have won earlier and no way will he win. The Congress will win handsomely.”
He added: “There are three days left. All this clever manoeuvering will yield no result whatsoever. Let me assure BJP, there is no advantage to be taken.”
The BJP has repeatedly suggested that rebels within the Rajasthan Congress will help its candidate. Sachin Pilot, who has been feuding with Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, is also seen to be among the dissidents, despite both leaders attempting to project unity.
There is speculation that the anger within has intensified over the party’s choice of Rajya Sabha candidates – Randeep Surjewala, Mukul Wasnik and Pramod Tiwari. They are all from other states and are seen as “outsiders” by local MLAs.
“National parties have national leaders who come to Rajya Sabha from different states. Anybody from any part can contest. National parties have that option. I am surprised why you never asked these questions to BJP,” Mr Pilot said.