Amid crisis brewing in Rajasthan after Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot’s open revolt against the Congress, two of Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot’s aides were raided by the Income Tax (I-T) department on Monday morning for alleged tax evasions.
Rajiv Arora, vice president of the party’s Rajasthan unit, and Dharmendra Rathore were raided hours after the ruling Congress denied any threat to its government in a late-night press briefing.
Five premises linked to the two leaders were raided in Jaipur and Kota over allegations of “tax evasion”, income tax officials said.
Sachin Pilot had set his party up for another state collapse on Sunday just three months after the Congress lost Madhya Pradesh to the BJP. Pilot, who is camping in Delhi, claims the support of 30 MLAs.
This morning, the 42-year-old leader said that he is “not joining the BJP” amid reports that he was likely to meet BJP chief JP Nadda on Monday.
But he had earlier refused to attend a key meeting of Congress MLAs called by Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot on Monday, being viewed as a show of strength.
The Congress at a press conference at 2:30 am said that 109 MLAs in the 200-member state assembly have expressed their trust in the Rajasthan government led by Ashok Gehlot.
After nearly two years of a simmering feud with Ashok Gehlot, the tipping point for Sachin Pilot came after he was summoned for questioning in an investigation into an alleged attempt to destabilise the state government ahead of the Rajya Sabha elections.
“Nobody wants to leave his home, but can’t continue to put up with this kind of humiliation; my MLAs and supporters are extremely hurt and I will have to listen to them,” Sachin Pilot said.
The summon was based on what the police say were tapped phone conversations of two BJP members arrested on Friday.
Chief Minister Gehlot tried to downplay the summons by the Special Operations Group (SOG), saying he too had received it.