JAIPUR: Chief minister Ashok Gehlot Thursday branded his bete noire Sachin Pilot a “gaddar” (traitor) who stood no chance of ever stepping into his shoes after having tried to topple his own party’s government two years ago while still holding the post of PCC president
How can he (Pilot) become CM? Our MLAs will never accept someone who led a revolt,” Gehlot told a TV channel. “I have proof that Rs 10 crore each was distributed to the MLAs holed up in a Manesar resort (in 2020) to topple the Congress government in Rajasthan,” he said, also accusing Union home minister Amit Shah of fuelling the rebellion
Gehlot’s latest salvo in his running feud with Pilot comes amid renewed speculation of a change in leadership as Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra approaches the desert state for an early December landing.
Pilot, who marched alongside Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra during the Madhya Pradesh leg of the yatra, said Gehlot “shouldn’t feel so insecure about his post that he needs to level such false and baseless allegations”. “It is unbecoming of someone with such vast experience, and a person who got so many opportunities as a member of the party. . . I think this is not the time for mudslinging; this is the time to work collectively to make sure the Bharat Jodo Yatra is fruitful,” the former deputy CM said.
Gehlot, whose bid for the party presidentship in September was derailed by a mass resignation drama over Pilot being his possible successor as CM, said the Congress high command could replace him with any of its 102 MLAs other than his estranged ex-deputy.
“Till now, he hasn’t apologized (for the revolt). Had he done so, I wouldn’t have had to apologize for what happened later,” the CM said, alluding to over 90 MLAs loyal to him skipping a Congress Legislature Party meeting in September to decide his successor.
The CM claimed his loyalists were showing their anger “at the possibility of a traitor getting the chief ministership” rather than rebelling against the high command.
Rajasthan crisis resolution soon: Congress
The buzz about Pilot still being in the reckoning was fuelled recently by Gujjar leader Vijay Bainsla demanding that the former be made CM, failing which the community would block Rahul’s yatra through the state.
The pilot distanced himself from the move. AICC general secretary of communications Jairam Ramesh issued a statement saying the party leadership would settle the Gehlot-Pilot feud for good. “Ashok Gehlot is a senior and experienced political leader. Whatever differences he has with his younger colleague will be resolved in a manner that strengthens Congress.”