Gehlot is our leader, have never disputed his leadership: Vishvendra Singh
Vishvendra Singh, on of the rebel Rajasthan Congress leader, said “There’s a leader, and always only one leader. We went under the leadership of Mr. Pilot as the PCC (Pradesh Congress Committee) chief and deputy CM. We all along had maintained radio silence about our misgivings.Updated: Aug 14, 2020 13:53 IST
Vishvendra Singh, the former Rajasthan minister for tourism and a part of the 18 dissident Congress leaders, who had backed sacked deputy chief minister Sachin Pilot in his bitter power struggle against CM Ashok Gehlot, spoke to HT about the recent political high drama in the desert state. Edited excerpts of the interview:
Were you in Delhi or Manesar in Haryana for all these days? Why were the lawmakers camping in Haryana?
Initially, we went to Delhi. But since Delhi hotels were shut because of the raging coronavirus disease (Covid-19) outbreak, I decided to stay at my residence in the national capital, Mr. Pilot stayed at his and the rest of the MLAs (members of the Rajasthan legislative assembly) decided to stay at one place ... they wanted to stay at a central place in Haryana. Besides, Manesar and Gurgram are both close to Delhi. We went to Delhi to update the party high command that the election manifesto was not being implemented at a pace it should have been, and the coordination between the two – the government and the organisation – had left a lot to be desired. We wanted to apprise the high command about all these sticking points.
We also heard a statement allegedly from the Pilot camp that the Gehlot government is reduced to a minority and Pilot had the support of 30 MLAs. Was there an attempt to topple the democratically elected government?
There’s a leader, and always only one leader. We went under the leadership of Mr. Pilot as the PCC (Pradesh Congress Committee) chief and deputy CM. We all along had maintained radio silence about our misgivings. Though we have been abused by a section of people, we did not react to those statements. We are part of the same family and we wanted to convey a unified picture to the party high command.
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There was a perception that the Pilot faction was hobnobbing with the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) and the latter was behind the political turmoil because it had wanted to cash in on the factionalism and form its own government. How do you react to this perception?
How are we supposed to be linked to the BJP? Each one of us (MLAs) has paid our own bills, and each one of us has paid the lawyers. Mr. Pilot has all the relevant documents to back my assertions. If we were allegedly hobnobbing with the BJP, then we would not be having this discussion?
Who’s your leader? Gehlot or Pilot?
Our leader is Mrs. Sonia Gandhi. At the Centre, it is also Rahul Gandhiji and Priyanka Gandhji. At the state level, it is Mr. Gehlot since he is the CM and the head of the family … we have never disputed his leadership, neither has Mr. Pilot joined issue over it. Else, Mr. Pilot would not have settled for the deputy CM’s portfolio. Whoever the high command chooses is our leader. If the high command would have decided Mr. Pilot as the CLP (Congress legislative party) leader, then he would have been our leader. However, Mr. Gehlot was chosen by the high command, while Mr. Pilot is the leader of the state organisation, as the PCC chief.
Will you attend the CLP happens, as and when it is convened?
Why not? I’m not guilty of any wrongdoing.
Did the high command give you any assurance about restoring your Cabinet berth?
No. We have put no condition … the only condition is that we want self-respect and we want protection from the high command and that the promises made to the public must be fulfilled without any further delay.