‘Not on speaking terms with Sachin Pilot for last 18 months’: Ashok Gehlot
In a big reveal, Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot has said he has not been on talking terms with his former deputy chief minister Sachin Pilot since the past 18 months and that Pilot was plotting to topple his government from the first day. However, the CM also added that if the rebel Congress leader, who insists he is not joining the BJP, were to come back to the party, “he will welcome him with a hug”.
In an interview to a TV channel, Gehlot said, “There was no dialogue between us since the last one and a half years. A minister who doesn’t talk to the chief minister, doesn’t take his advice, keeps no dialogue with him... There can be opposition but dialogue is necessary in a democracy,” he said.
Claiming the support of over 100 MLAs, Gehlot said Pilot has been conspiring to dislodge the government from the day of its formation in December 2018. The CM said Pilot had only 12-15 MLAs with him.
“My government is sitting with over 100 MLAs but you want to topple that and form a government with support of the BJP. People will never forgive you,” Gehlot said.
The CM said the entire matter was very unfortunate and the internal quarrel should have been resolved internally. “If you do politics in connivance with your rivals then what is left in democracy,” he said.
On the notice issued by the Special Operations Group of the Rajasthan police over alleged attempts to bribe the MLAs before the Rajya Sabha elections to topple the state government, Gehlot said notices have been served, even one to him, but an environment is being created that poor Pilot has got a notice.
“Our party is the complainant and 10-12 notices have been served. We have not named him. We have said there was a conspiracy by the BJP to topple the government, why is he going around giving clarifications?” said Gehlot.
The CM said Pilot and his MLAs had planned to flee on June 10 but Gehlot learnt of their plan and thwarted it and had to keep all MLAs under lockdown in a resort.
“They were planning to leave at 2 am. I had to save the government. I woke up all the collectors at 1 am and I asked all party leaders to reach Jaipur the next day and almost all of them reached. Then these people realised the truth and started saying there was no conspiracy and there was no need for placing MLAs under lockdown. But I had proof then and I have proof now,” he said.
Gehlot said Pilot initially wanted to join the BJP but his MLAs were not willing so he thought of forming a third front, a new party to finish the Congress in Rajasthan.
Referring to Pilot and BJP MP Jyotiraditya Scindia, who quit the Congress three months back, Gehlot said the younger leaders should show patience and trust the leaders.
“You should not betray the party, the party has given you so much. I have been a three time central minister, three time PCC chief, three time AICC general secretary and three time CM because I went through the grind in the NSUI and Youth Congress. Leaders from our generation worked hard and stayed loyal to the party and its ideology and so we are where we are today,” said Gehlot.
The Congress veteran underlined that he had become chief minister because people wanted it and it was eventually decided by the high command. “If I felt that the public and MLAs were not with me, I would have myself told the high command,” he said.
“People say we are seniors now and we should sit at home. But this talk is irrelevant. We too were juniors when we joined and we are still active today. Now people say they should sit at home. If we leave politics, what will we do?” he said.
Asked what would happen if Sachin Pilot were to return to the Congress, Gehlot said he would welcome him with open arms. “He was three years old when I became MP for the first time. I have ties with his family going back decades. I will welcome him with a hug.”
Asked if there was a question mark on the leadership of Rahul Gandhi as leaders perceived close to him were leaving the party, Gehlot said: “There’s no question mark on his leadership but on the thought process of these leaders.”
He said these younger leaders have not learnt to rough it out in politics but have got a chance due to the untimely demise of their fathers.
On Rahul Gandhi’s statement that those who want to leave are welcome to go, Gehlot said he supported it. “Those who want to leave, should leave. Those who do not have commitment towards the party... they are liabilities who are just waiting to grab posts... those who are committed don’t get a chance. Those who are opportunists and traitors, if they leave then a new form of the party will come forth,” said Gehlot.