Ashok Gehlot's leader is Vasundhara Raje, says Sachin Pilot
DECCAN CHRONICLE | Ashhar Khan
New Delhi/Jaipur: The knives are out in the Rajasthan Congress. A day after Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot hit out at his former deputy, Sachin Pilot on Tuesday said that the recent speech by Mr Gehlot indicated that his real leader is BJP's Vasundhara Raje and not Sonia Gandhi.
In an all-out attack on Mr Gehlot, Mr Pilot said he will not quit the Congress as he didn't want to ruin party's chances ahead of the Rajasthan elections later this year. Instead, he announced a five day, 125-km "Jan Sangharsh Yatra' from May 11 over "corruption" and cases of leaking of papers for state government recruitment exams.
The Pilot-Gehlot flare-up comes just days ahead of the Karnataka polls. Addressing a press conference, Mr Pilot said, "He (Mr Gehlot) alleges that the BJP tried to topple his government... then he says a BJP leader helped save his government. He should explain the contradiction."
He further added: "Some people want to weaken the Congress... We will not let them succeed. After listening to Mr Gehlot's speech, I understand why we could not act on corruption cases in 4.5 years. No leader is more important than the public."
Earlier, speaking at a programme in Rajasthan's Dholpur on Sunday, Mr Gehlot said Ms Raje and two other BJP leaders -- Shobha Rani and Kailash Meghwal -- had "saved" his government by declining to take advantage of the Congress' infighting.
Mr Pilot accused Mr Gehlot of insulting his own MLAs and harming his own party ahead of the elections. He said: "I now understand why no action was taken against corruption by the Vasundhara Raje government despite my repeated requests," accusing Mr Gehlot of going soft on the BJP because of a secret understanding.
The former deputy chief minister said he had tolerated much name-calling and attacks from Mr Gehlot over the past two-and-a-half years. "He called me gaddar (traitor), nikamma (useless), corona… Many insinuations and abuses were directed at me. I didn't say anything, as I didn't want to damage the party," he said.
The situation in Rajasthan Congress is due to the complete inaction of the high command. After a revolt took place in September last year when three MLAs ensured that the CLP meeting to change the chief minister could not take place the high command did not take any action. It’s been six months and no action has been taken against them. Last month, also, a flare-up happened between Mr Gehlot and Mr Pilot. The party high command once again could not ensure a truce against the warring factions.
Mr Pilot said the planned yatra from Ajmer, where the Rajasthan Public Service Commission is headquartered, is not against anyone. "This is on the issue of corruption; this is for the youth who are disappointed due to repeated paper leak cases," he said.