Sachin Pilot a traitor, he can’t be made CM, says Ashok Gehlot

Mr. Pilot reacted to Mr. Gehlot’s allegations against him by terming them as “false and baseless”.

Updated - November 25, 2022 11:54 am IST

Published - November 24, 2022 05:42 pm IST - Jaipur

Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and Sachin Pilot. File

Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and Sachin Pilot. File | Photo Credit: The Hindu

In the sharpest-ever attack on his former deputy, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot on Thursday called Sachin Pilot a “traitor” and insisted that he could not be made the CM, as he had staged a rebellion and tried to topple his own government in 2020. Mr. Gehlot’s stinging remarks appeared to have widened the cracks within the ruling Congress in the State shortly before the 2023 Assembly election.

Mr. Pilot reacted to Mr. Gehlot’s allegations against him by terming them as “false and baseless”.

Also Read | Uneasy political situation in Rajasthan 

In an interview with the NDTV news channel, recorded in Pali district, Mr. Gehlot said that the State’s Congress MLAs would never accept a person who had revolted and was identified as a traitor. “He betrayed the party. He is a traitor. He doesn’t have even 10 MLAs [with him]. How can the people accept him?” Mr. Gehlot said, while alleging that the BJP had distributed ₹10 crore each to the MLAs led by Mr. Pilot, who holed up in a resort in Haryana in 2020.

BJP involvement

The veteran Congress leader alleged that Union Home Minister Amit Shah was involved in Mr. Pilot’s rebellion, adding that Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan had visited the legislators who had joined the former Deputy Chief Minister in his revolt. Mr. Gehlot said that Mr. Pilot had not tendered any apology so far to the Congress high command and the people of Rajasthan for his “act of betrayal”.

BJP State president Satish Poonia refuted the charge that his party had paid money to the Congress MLAs for their defection.

‘Unbecoming’

Mr. Pilot was in Madhya Pradesh on Thursday to participate in Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra. He said that Mr. Gehlot, who was an “experienced and seasoned” leader, should not feel insecure about his position. “The Congress lost Rajasthan Assembly elections twice under Mr. Gehlot’s leadership... He had earlier called me worthless and incompetent. It is unbecoming of him to say such things,” Mr. Pilot told a news agency in Madhya Pradesh.

Also Read | Uncertainty lingers, Ashok Gehlot tries to show all is well in his State

All India Congress Committee general secretary for communications Jairam Ramesh said in a statement that Mr. Gehlot’s differences with his younger colleague Mr. Pilot would be resolved in a manner which strengthened the Congress party. “Right now it is the duty of each and every Congressman and Congresswoman to make the already hugely successful Bharat Jodo Yatra even more impactful in the north Indian States,” Mr. Ramesh said.

Mr. Gehlot’s no-holds-barred attack on Mr. Pilot, who was sacked as both the Deputy CM and the Pradesh Congress Committee president in 2020, came just ahead of the Yatra’s entry into Rajasthan in the first week of December. The tussle between the rival factions in the ruling party has also become conspicuous before the State goes to the polls in 2023.

Mr. Gehlot also said that the Congress high command could replace him with any of its 102 MLAs, except Mr. Pilot, if the party leadership felt that its prospects would improve in next year’s Assembly election. “I am certain that the MLAs are not going to accept him. Can you find an instance in history where a party president tried to bring down his own government?” he asked.

The Chief Minister said that the absence of MLAs in the September 25 Congress Legislature Party (CLP) meeting in Jaipur was not a revolt, but the manifestation of resentment against Mr. Pilot who had created an impression that he was going to be named the new CM. “If he had apologised, I would not have had to tender an apology,” Mr. Gehlot said, referring to his apology to former Congress president Sonia Gandhi over the CLP meeting’s boycott.

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