Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot’s latest attack on arch rival Sachin Pilot has erupted a huge political storm within the Congress yet again. Calling him a “traitor”, CM Gehlot categorically said that Pilot cannot be made the chief minister of Rajasthan as he does not have the support of even 10 party MLAs.
In an interview with NDTV, responding to a question on the possibility of making Sachin Pilot the next CM candidate in Rajasthan, Gehlot said:
“Unko (Sachin Pilot) kaisey (CM) bana sakte hain? Jo aadmi ke paas dus toh vidhayak nahin hain… jisne revolt kiya ho, jisko gaddar naam diya gaya hai, gaddari ki party ke saath mein… jo party ke saath gaddari kiye hue aadmi hai, usko kaisey sweekar kar sakte hain koi log? Simple baat hai. (How can he be made the CM. A person who does not have even 10 MLAs, who revolted and was labelled a traitor, betrayed the party… How can anybody accept a person who betrayed the party? It is that simple.)
Gehlot’s statement comes when the Rahul Gandhi-led foot-march – the ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ – is about to enter Rajasthan next month.
Wasting no time in responding to the offensive remarks made by his senior colleague against him, Sachin Pilot said that such comments do not suit him.
Speaking with the news agency ANI, Pilot, who is currently travelling with Rahul Gandhi in Madhya Pradesh as part of the Bharat Jodo Yatra, said:
“If a senior and experienced person makes such comments, it is inappropriate and doesn’t suit him. I don’t think it is right that we level allegations and counter-allegations at each other. It is a challenging time for the party to stay together. And until we work unitedly, how will we return to power in Rajasthan.”
In a war of words between the two top Congress leaders in the state, Pilot further claimed that the Congress came into power in 2018 under his leadership, while it faced defeat under Gehlot two times.
“No person should be so insecure, because this is the order of life. There are ups and downs in politics. All of us should collectively strengthen the hands of Khargeji, Rahulji and Priyankaji,” said Pilot. He further reminded that Gehlot had earlier called him “nikamma and nakara (worthless and useless)”.
According to reports, Gehlot had used the word “nikamma” for Pilot after he revolted against the Congress in July 2020, and speculation of him joining the BJP started doing the rounds.
Making the situation worse in Rajasthan, the MLAs loyal to CM Ashok Gehlot had skipped a Congress Legislature Party meeting called by the party’s top leaders, and submitted their resignations to the state assembly speaker amid speculation of a possible change in the state cabinet.
Amid the latest war of words between two Rajasthan leaders, the Congress has responded and said that the party was surprised by Gehlot’s offensive attack against Pilot.
Speaking with NDTV, senior Congress leader and party communication chief Jairam Ramesh said, “Some words used in the interview were unexpected. Many were surprised. The Congress leadership will discuss how to resolve this.”
“We are a family, and the Congress needs both an experienced leader like Ashok Gehlot and an energetic youth leader like Sachin Pilot,” he added.
The rift between Gehlot and Pilot over Rajasthan’s top government post is not new. Earlier in September, Gehlot, who was the top contestant for the Congress president post, opted out to make it clear that he does not want Pilot to replace him. Gehlot would have had to resign as the chief minister if he was elected as party president.
BJP’s Jibe At Congress
Wasting no time in taking advantage of the rift between the two Congress leaders, the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP’s) leader of opposition in Rajasthan, Gulab Chand Kataria pointed out that Gehlot claims to be a disciplined worker of the Congress but uses such words.
On Ashok Gehlot’s statement calling Sachin Pilot a failure and a traitor, deputy leader of opposition Rajendra Rathore said that Gehlot started his “Congress todo yatra” even before the arrival of Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra in Rajasthan.
BJP state president Satish Poonia said that the allegations made by CM Ashok Gehlot on the party regarding any connection with the rebellion led by Sachin Pilot are completely baseless.
Gurjar Leader’s Threat Over Bharat Jodo Yatra
Meanwhile, Gurjar leader Vijay Singh Bainsla has threatened to oppose the Bharat Jodo Yatra when it enters Rajasthan, possibly on December 3, and demanded to declare Sachin Pilot as the CM candidate of the state.
“You made him the MLA but when will you make him the CM? We want a CM, Rahul Gandhi ji. When you come to Rajasthan on the 3rd of December, you come either with a Gurjar CM or with a reply over the matter,” said Bainsla.
Accusing the BJP of creating a disturbance in the Congress’ Bharat Jodo Yatra, Pilot has distanced himself from Bainsla’s threat and said that the state will welcome the mass movement led by Rahul Gandhi.
Pilot, who also belongs to the Gujrar community, further said that he was confident that the people are excited to participate in the yatra, and that the movement will be “historic”.