New Delhi: BJP vice-president Om Prakash Mathur Tuesday said Sachin Pilot, who has been sacked as the Rajasthan deputy chief minister and as state Congress president, was welcome to join the party.
In an exclusive interview to ThePrint, Mathur, the Rajya Sabha MP from Rajasthan, also said Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot should face a floor test right away.
“The BJP is a big party and we will be happy to accommodate him if he (Pilot) decides to join us. We welcome everyone to join the BJP, including Congressmen,” Mathur said. “The Congress is a sinking ship and people are deserting it to join the BJP.”
On Gehlot’s charges that the BJP was indulging in horse trading, Mathur said, “Gehlotji is saying that the BJP is offering MLAs money, indulging in horse trading. Tell me one thing. Is his own house in order?”
He added, “You removed your own pradesh committee president who is also the deputy chief minister. Was he corrupt? He was demanding his due. Before making allegations, look within your own party and culture. Your young politicians are feeling suffocated as there is no mechanism in the Congress to hear them out. Gehlot should immediately face a floor test.”
Pilot-Gehlot tussle ‘internal Congress matter’
Mathur also said the BJP believes the conflict between Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and his former deputy Sachin Pilot is an internal Congress matter but added that the party is sympathetic towards Pilot’s situation.
“Young leaders have always been neglected and sidelined in the Congress,” Mathur, who is also the BJP incharge for UP and Jharkhand, said. “Sachin Pilot had worked for five years to strengthen the Congress but he was ignored for chief ministership when the time came. If the party had decided to appoint Gehlot as the chief minister, it should have managed it better.”
Mathur also said the Gehlot-Pilot tussle has hurt daily administrative affairs in Rajasthan. “Progress in Rajasthan has stopped due to their infighting. There is no work being done,” Mathur said. “People are asking what is their fault for having voted for the Congress. The Congress has lost the plot. In every part of the country, Congressmen are deserting the party.”
‘Gehlot holding MLAs captive’
On Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot claiming that he has the support of 100 party MLAs, Mathur said the chief minister appears to have no confidence in his legislators and is hence “holding them captive”.
“For how long will he hold his MLAs captive?” Mathur asked. “If Sachin or the BJP seek a floor test, will his government survive? I have seen situations in the last 40 years where MLAs have cross-voted on the floor of the House. He (Gehlot) has called for cameras to send a message but who knows how many MLAs will vote on the floor of the House. If he is so sure of his numbers, why has he held his MLAs captive? Gehlot is fearful at the moment, he has no confidence in his MLAs.”
Mathur’s tone outlined the BJP strategy that it is eyeing a floor test.
“The Congress flock is disintegrating across the country,” Mathur said. “The Congress has become a communication-less party. Nobody has time to meet anyone. It has become a party of the parivar (family). It is heard that Priyanka will take charge after Sachin. After Priyanka, her son will take over. It has become a one-family party.”
The divide in the BJP
On the BJP being a divided house in Rajasthan, especially with a faction backing former CM Vasundhara Raje and another opposed to her, Mathur said if the party eventually forms government in the state, everybody will follow the high command.
“In the BJP, there is a different party system,” the MP said. “If the party decides something, everybody follows it, whether it is Vasudhara Raje or Om Mathur. Here we talk every day on small issues as well. There is no communication gap like in the Congress. Everyone is available on the phone.”