New Delhi/Jaipur: Dissident Congress leader Sachin Pilot on Monday dismissed as "baseless and vexatious" the allegations by a party MLA from Rajasthan that the former deputy chief minister had offered him money to join the BJP, and claimed that it was an attempt to stifle the "legitimate concerns" he raised against the party leadership in the state.
Pilot said he will be taking "appropriate and strictest possible legal action" against the MLA who "was made to" level these accusations.
Congress MLA Giriraj Singh Malinga alleged that Pilot had offered him money to join the BJP.
In a statement, Pilot said there will more such "concocted" allegations and the narrative is being redirected to avoid the main issue, but stressed that he will remain firm on his stand.
"I am saddened but not surprised to be at the receiving end of such baseless and vexatious allegations being levelled against me," he said.
"This is done solely to malign me and to stifle the legitimate concerns that I had raised against the party leadership of the state, as a member and MLA of INC," he said.
Pilot said the allegations were an attempt to defame him and attack his credibility.
"The narrative is being redirected to avoid addressing the main issue...I am sure more such concocted allegations will be thrown at me to cause aspersions on my public image. But I shall be unfettered and remain firm in my beliefs and conviction," he said.
Malinga claimed that talks were held at Pilot's residence and subsequently, he had alerted Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot about the conspiracy to topple the Congress government in Rajasthan.
He did not disclose the amount that he was allegedly offered to join the saffron party. Asked if it was between Rs 30 crore and Rs 35 crore, Malinga said he was offered the "going rate".
Pilot's sharp reaction came hours after Gehlot called him useless, using the Hindi word nikamma in a no-holds-barred attack on his former deputy.
Last week, Pilot and 18 other MLAs rebelled openly, defying a party whip to attend two Congress Legislature Party meetings. He was then sacked as deputy chief minister and PCC chief.
The showdown came after the state police's Special Operation Group launched a probe into alleged attempts at horse trading to topple the Gehlot government.
Gehlot had later alleged that Pilot was part of the conspiracy by the BJP.
The opposition BJP has denied the allegations and blamed the Gehlot-Pilot power tussle for the Congress' troubles in Rajasthan.
The Rajasthan High Court is hearing a plea by Pilot and other rebel MLAs against the disqualification notices issued to them by the Assembly Speaker.
In the 200-member state assembly, the Congress has 107 MLAs, including former deputy chief minister Pilot and 18 MLAs loyal to him, who have rebelled against the Gehlot government.
Pilot has been upset since the Congress picked Gehlot over him for the chief minister's post, following the December 2018 elections. His supporters insisted that it was Pilot's leadership as the state Congress head which led to the victory.