New Delhi: The Congress came to power in 2018 due to the strength of its workers who toiled hard for years under his leadership when he was the state unit president, senior party leader Sachin Pilot has said in what appeared to be a veiled reassertion of his claim for the coveted chief ministerial post in Rajasthan.
In July 2020, Pilot was removed from the post of deputy chief minister and the Congress state unit chief, after he had skipped the second round of meetings convened by the party leadership to resolve his stand-off with Gehlot.
On Monday, Pilot said Congress workers and leaders are working collectively to ensure the party’s victory in the assembly polls to be held next year. He added that they emerged victorious because of the farmers, the youths, and the poor.
“When I was the Congress state president, then I and the workers struggled hard. In Hadoti, we have fought for the farmers and the poor in this region. We all have a collective responsibility that those who are our workers, functionaries should live up to the expectations of the public, farmers, youth and the party workers. We are working together. The goal for all of us is to once again form the Congress government in 2023,” he told reporters in Kota.
Pilot’s message comes amid uncertainty about Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot’s continuance in the chair, even as the Congress high command dithers over its next course of action after Gehlot loyalists rose in rebellion against the central leadership’s apparent move to remove him and pave the way for Pilot’s installation.
His visit to Kota en route to senior BJP leader and former chief minister Vasundhara Raje’s Jhalrapatan constituency was full of symbolism and messages.
Kota is the home turf of Rajasthan Cabinet minister Shanti Dhariwal, a staunch Gehlot loyalist at whose house the Congress MLAs had gathered after skipping the Legislature Party meeting that would have authorised party president Sonia Gandhi to nominate the next chief minister.
Pilot also sought to project himself as Raje’s principal challenger with his visit to her stronghold to attend a function organised by the Aheer community. His mother Rama Pilot had contested unsuccessfully against Raje from Jhalrapatan in 2003.
“He did not take Gehlot’s name but the fact that he mentioned the Rajasthan victory is because of the workers and how as a state unit chief he struggled, is important in the backdrop of the political happenings,” said a senior Congress leader.
Another party functionary mentioned that the former deputy chief minister had travelled by train and that there was enthusiasm among the public. “Thousands of workers had gathered to welcome him. It can be seen as a show of strength as it is Raje’s stronghold and the fact that Congress minister Shanti Dhariwal is the MLA from Kota (North),” said the Congress functionary.
This is one of the first major political programmes of the party undertaken by Pilot in the Hadoti division ahead of the crucial 2023 Rajasthan elections. The Tonk MLA later reached his home constituency where he met people Tuesday and surveyed the crop damage caused by unseasonal rains.
(Edited by Tony Rai)
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