New Delhi: A fresh salvo was fired in the political battle between Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot and his adversary Sachin Pilot in the wake of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s praise for the Congress veteran at an event to honour tribal martyrs Tuesday.
Modi and Gehlot had attended an event to commemorate the 1913 Mangarh uprising of Bhil tribals.
Pilot, whose chances of becoming the Rajasthan CM was recently thwarted after a rebellion of Gehlot loyalists, said Modi’s praise was “interesting”.
“I find the heaps of praises by PM Modi (on CM Gehlot) very interesting. The PM had similarly praised Ghulam Nabi Azad in Parliament. We saw what happened after that. It was an interesting development yesterday. It shouldn’t be taken lightly,” Pilot said Wednesday.
Last year, Modi had given an emotional farewell to the then Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad in the Rajya Sabha. The former chief of Jammu and Kashmir quit the Congress in August after writing a scathing letter to then party president Sonia Gandhi.
Pilot also referred to the 25 September meeting of the Congress’ Legislative Party (CLP) which did not happen as MLAs loyal to Gehlot held a parallel meeting at the house of CLP leader Shanti Dhariwal.
“AICC [All India Congress Committee] considered it a matter of indiscipline. The rules are the same for all. So, if indiscipline occurred and replies were given, action should be taken. I believe party chief [Mallikarjun] Kharge will take a decision soon,” said Pilot.
After the September fiasco, the Congress high command had served showcause notices to chief whip Mahesh Joshi, CLP leader Shanti Dhariwal and MLA Dharmendra Rathore, asking them to explain why the incident took place. While the three have responded, the party is yet to take a decision on the incident.
Reacting to Pilot’s statement, Gehlot said that such remarks should not be made. “K.C. Venugopal [General Secretary, organisation] has asked everybody in the party to not make any such remarks. We want everybody to follow discipline,” the chief minister tweeted.
Rajasthan Minister Mahesh Joshi, known to be a Gehlot loyalist, said the chief minister “does not require anybody’s certificate to prove his loyalty”.
“[After] the polite manner in which he sought apology [from Sonia], his stature has become bigger in public. We can’t say anything about those who don’t know how to apologise. We don’t know about the hospitality in Haryana, but it’s a tradition of Rajasthan that if a PM visits our state, then he has to be respected. CM Gehlot reminded the PM of democratic legacy of our country that the Congress gave. It was necessary to remind the PM about it,” Joshi said.
The minister was making a reference to Pilot’s rebellion in 2020, when he had ferried about 18-20 MLAs to a resort in Haryana.
“Whoever is there should see his own history. If the high command takes action against us, we will face it. Merely getting notice doesn’t mean we are at fault. We won’t let anything wrong happen to the party,” he added.
Also Read: ‘We struggled hard’: Ahead of 2023 polls, Pilot reminds Congress brass of his role in Rajasthan win
‘Pilot hoping Kharge will sting Gehlot’
The BJP attacked the Congress over the fresh war of words, with its social media cell chief Amit Malviya saying that Pilot was cognizant of a “deep distrust” between Kharge and Gehlot.
“Pilot knows of the deep distrust between Gehlot and now Congress president Kharge, who was humiliated by the former when he recently visited Rajasthan as an observer. MLAs close to Gehlot had refused to meet him. Pilot is hoping that Kharge backed by the Gandhis will sting,” Malviya tweeted.
Union Minister Arjun Ram Meghwal said that the factionalism in Congress is affecting governance in Rajasthan. “Rajasthan Congress is divided into two factions of Ashok Gehlot & Sachin Pilot due to which governance in state is affected. PM spoke about GN Azad while it was his last day in RS. Sachin Pilot is worried about (CM) chair, it’s their internal matter,” Meghwal said.
(Edited by Tony Rai)
Also Read: Ashok Gehlot: ‘Jaadugar’ who worked magic for Congress over decades now faces uncertain road