Refrain from making controversial remarks, Congress tells Rajasthan leaders

Updated on Dec 01, 2022 01:17 AM IST

The Congress party has asked senior leaders in Rajasthan to refrain from infighting and making controversial public statements, said two leaders privy to the proceedings of a meeting attended by Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot, senior leader Sachin Pilot and general secretary KC Venugopal.

Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot addresses a joint press conference with Congress leader Sachin Pilot in Jaipur on Tuesday. (ANI)
Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot addresses a joint press conference with Congress leader Sachin Pilot in Jaipur on Tuesday. (ANI)
By, Jaipur

The Congress party has asked senior leaders in Rajasthan to refrain from infighting and making controversial public statements, said two leaders privy to the proceedings of a meeting attended by Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot, senior leader Sachin Pilot and general secretary KC Venugopal, days after a public tussle for control of the party in the state.

The meeting was held on Tuesday in Jaipur on the sidelines of a meeting to prepare for the Rajasthan leg of Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra, which is set to enter the state on December 4. Both Pilot and Gehlot came together in an ostensible show of unity after the meeting.

Venugopal, Gehlot and Pilot attempted to stage a united front, with the chief minister referencing Rahul Gandhi’s comments on Monday that both him and Pilot were “assets” to the party. Pilot, who also spoke on the sidelines of the meeting, said the message of love and brotherhood that Gandhi was spreading through the Yatra was important for the country.

A senior Congress leader aware of the developments at the meeting said on the condition of anonymity that Venugopal told everyone that action would be taken within 24 hours if leaders were to make controversial statements. “Without taking names of ministers, Venugopal said that they were making unnecessary statements in the media, and if they did so now, they may be removed within 24 hours. He said that leaders should concentrate on their respective departments,” the leader cited above said.

Also read: Rajasthan: Neighbours shoot dead 3 of a family in Bharatpur over old dispute

The meeting came days after Gehlot told news channel NDTV that Pilot was a “gaddar” or traitor who could not be made the CM. Hitting back, Pilot had said the remarks were unbecoming of a senior leader.

A second leader aware of details said that Venugopal argued that controversial statements weakened the party and harmed its battle against the BJP. “He said that the public comments had sent a wrong message through the party,” the second leader cited above said, requesting anonymity.

A third Congress leader said that Venugopal met Gehlot and Pilot separately for around 20 minutes. “This latest warning is also because the party wants to avoid any further discomfiture before Rahul Gandhi’s yatra,” the third leader added, requesting anonymity.

Also read: 'Political break...': BJP mocks Cong over Gehlot-Pilot's Rajasthan show of unity

Both Pilot and Gehlot have been bitter rivals for years but things came to a head in 2020 when the former rebelled against Gehlot’s leadership. Earlier this year, lawmakers close to Gehlot defied the party leadership’s diktat to allow the high-command to nominate the next CM – at the time, Gehlot was the frontrunner to become the next Congress chief – because there was speculation that Pilot would become the next CM.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Sachin Saini is Special Correspondent for Rajasthan. He covers politics, tourism, forest, home, panchayati raj and rural development, and development journalism.

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