Ashok Gehlot’s fear against Sachin Pilot is open again. In one of the sharpest criticisms of the co-congress leader, the Prime Minister of Rajasthan on Thursday called Pilot a “gaddar” (traitor), during an interview with NDTV.
“A gaddar (traitor) cannot be Prime Minister…the Congress High Command cannot make Sachin Pilot Prime Minister…a man who does not have 10 MLAs. Who rebelled. He has betrayed the party, he is a traitor,” Gehlot said.
The power struggle between Gehlot and Pilot over the post of Prime Minister has been a long-running one, an issue that has led to two political crises in four years of Congressional administration.
Gehlot’s statement comes days after Vijay Singh Bainsla, the leader of Gurjar Arakshan Sangharh Samiti, threatened to oppose Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra in Rajasthan unless his demands, which include making Pilot, a prominent face of the community, the prime minister, are accepted.
Gehlot also attacked Pilot for not apologizing to the party’s high command for the 2020 uprising.
The veteran leader also said Congress could replace him with one of its 102 MLAs in Rajasthan, other than Pilot, if the top leadership believes the party’s prospects would improve in next year’s poll.
When asked about the uprising by Gehlot loyalists in September, the chief minister said, “I tell you. They (the Rajasthan Congress MLAs) were angry because the news was spread that Sachin Pilot will become chief minister. He behaved like that too. “People thought he was going to be prime minister… Pilot called a lot of MLAs, he said leave it to the high command, an observer will come to hear your opinion. So the MLAs felt there might be one line. “resolution today, tomorrow will be the swearing-in (of Pilot). Because of this rumor, they all gathered there.”
Gehlot claimed that Pilot had met with two senior Union ministers in Delhi. “Amit Shah and Dharmendra Pradhan were involved. They (including pilot) had a meeting in Delhi,” Gehlot claimed, adding that “some €5 crore, what €10 crores”.
“In fact, the money was collected from the BJP office in Delhi,” Gehlot claimed, adding that Pradhan visited the pilot camp at a time when congressional envoys were denied entry.
When asked what their problem was with Pilot becoming Chief Minister, Gehlot said: “How could they bear to become Pilot Chief Minister? People who suffered for 34 days, we know how we survived the 34 days. We had to protest at Raj Bhavan. I was also there. We worked hard to save the government.. A man who does not have 10 MLAs. Who has rebelled, who has been called a traitor. He has betrayed the party and is a traitor . How can people accept him?”
He said that one will never find an example of a party chairman “trying to overthrow his own government”.
“The whole game was theirs. €10 crore was distributed by the BJP. I have proof,” said Gehlot.
However, Rajasthan BJP chief Satish Punia has denied allegations that the Saffron Party was involved in paying money to Congress legislators in 2020 to defect.
There have been rumors in the Rajasthan Congress about a possible change in leadership but the same is being opposed by another section as well.
Gehlot has said that the 90 MLAs who bailed out the government during Pilot’s rebellion are loyal to the party’s high command and not to him.
He said lawmakers wanted Pilot to at least apologize to the party high command and the people of Rajasthan.