Sachin Pilot targets Gehlot for PM’s praise, demands action on MLAs’ indiscipline

PM had similarly praised Ghulam Nabi Azad, and “we all saw what happened after that”, said Pilot

November 02, 2022 03:28 pm | Updated 09:05 pm IST - Jaipur

File picture of Congress leader Sachin Pilot

File picture of Congress leader Sachin Pilot | Photo Credit: PTI

More than a month after the boycott of a Congress Legislature Party (CLP) meeting triggered a full-blown political crisis in Rajasthan, former Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot on Wednesday targeted Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot for Prime Minister Narendra Modi heaping praise on him at a government event. He also called for action against the rebel MLAs who boycotted the CLP meeting, breaking his silence on the standoff in the ruling party.

Sharing the dais with Mr. Gehlot at an official programme in Banswara district on Tuesday, Mr. Modi had noted that they had worked together as Chief Ministers. Mr. Gehlot was “the senior-most in our lot”, he said, adding that “he is still one of the senior-most CMs among those who are sitting on the stage right now.”

The PM’s accolades for Mr. Gehlot were an “interesting development” and “should not be taken lightly”, Mr. Pilot told reporters at his residence. Mr. Modi had similarly praised former Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad in Parliament and “we all saw what happened after that”, he added. Mr. Azad, formerly Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, recently left the Congress party.

In his address at the Banswara event, Mr. Gehlot had said that the PM commanded respect during his visits abroad because he represented Mahatma Gandhi’s country, where the roots of democracy were strong even after more than 70 years of Independence. The programme marked the anniversary of a massacre of tribal people by the British Indian Army in 1913.

Mr. Pilot also called for action against the MLAs who had shown indiscipline by staying away from the CLP meeting on September 25. A decision on the notices issued to three senior party leaders who were part of the boycott should be taken without delay, he said, urging that the “climate of indecision” should be ended.

Reacting to Mr. Pilot’s remarks, Mr. Gehlot said that party leaders should “maintain discipline” and refrain from making any kind of political statements. “All India Congress Committee (AICC) general secretary K.C. Venugopal has asked not to give statements... We want all leaders to maintain discipline,” Mr. Gehlot told reporters in Alwar, without naming Mr. Pilot.

AICC spokesperson Supriya Shrinate asserted that Mr. Gehlot had in fact shown a mirror to the Prime Minister at the Banswara event. “From the same stage, he has pointed out that the respect that you [Mr Modi] get is not because of you, but because you belong to the country of Gandhi  ji, Nehru  ji and Ambedkar  ji where democracy is strong,” Ms. Shrinate said. 

The CM said the focus of the ruling Congress should be on retaining the government in the State in the 2023 Assembly election. “Our target is to repeat the [Congress] government. We have ensured good governance and launched so many welfare schemes, which had never happened before. We will retain the State on the basis of our governance,” he said.

A large section of Congress MLAs had stayed away from the CLP meeting and threatened to resign if any resolution was passed to remove Mr. Gehlot as the Chief Minister and empower the high command to choose his successor. In an act of rebellion, as many as 92 legislators attended a parallel meeting at the residence of Parliamentary Affairs Minister Shanti Dhariwal on September 25.

Demanding action on the matter, Mr. Pilot said the rules and discipline of the party applied to everyone, irrespective of their stature. He expressed hope that Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge would soon take a decision on the issue.

Mr. Pilot pointed out that Mr. Gehlot had tendered an apology to the then-party chief Sonia Gandhi in connection with the September 25 episode. Besides, the three leaders – Mr. Dhariwal, chief whip Mahesh Joshi and AICC member Dharmendra Rathore – had responded to the notices and party observer Mr. Venugopal had assured a prompt decision, he said.

With only 13 months left for the Assembly elections, any decisions, such as whether to convene another CLP meeting, should be taken soon in order to clear the atmosphere of indecision, said the former Deputy CM, who represents Tonk constituency in the State Assembly.

Top News Today


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.