Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot on Sunday asserted that he could not ditch the lawmakers who ‘saved’ his government in 2020 and wondered why they resented the name of new Chief Minister in the State.
Though the Chief Minister didn’t name anyone, his comments are a veiled attack on Sachin Pilot, who was believed to be the high command’s choice as the successor to Mr. Gehlot, who was the frontrunner for the post of Congress president.
“When a Chief Minister is changed, 80-90% [MLAs] leave him and switch sides. They turn to the new candidate. I too don’t consider it wrong. But it was a new case in Rajasthan where the MLAs got agitated just in the name of the new Chief Minister,” Mr. Gehlot said without naming Mr. Pilot.
“I was in Jaisalmer. I could not guess but the MLAs sensed who was going to be the new Chief Minister,” he told reporters after paying tributes to Mahatma Gandhi at the Jaipur secretariat.
Mr. Gehlot said he could not ditch the 102 MLAs who had saved his government during the political crisis in July 2020 and, therefore, apologised to Congress President Sonia Gandhi.
Targeting the MLAs who had revolted against him in 2020, he accused them of being hand in glove with the BJP.
“Some of our MLAs met Amit Shah, Dharmendra Pradhan and other leaders. Amit Shah was offering sweets to our MLAs. So, how can I forget those 102 MLAs who saved the Congress government,” Mr. Gehlot said without naming anyone.
Asked about continuing as the Chief Minister, he said it was for the party high command to decide whether or not there should be a change of guard in the State.
“I am doing my work and if a decision has to be taken, it is for the party high command to take,” he said, adding, “I had already conveyed to madam [Sonia Gandhi] and Ajay Maken in August that it is not necessary that I should be the Chief Minister. I told them that I am ready to withdraw as CM. I said I will support and campaign because it should be our aim to revive the Congress party”.
On Saturday, however, in a clear hint that he would continue, he had asked people to send their suggestions for the next Budget directly to him.
Commenting on the presidential race, Mr. Gehlot said party veteran Mallikarjun Kharge would emerge as a clear winner in a ‘one-sided’ contest against Shashi Tharoor, who he described as belonging to the ‘elite class’.
(With PTI inputs)