'Sachin Pilot a Gaddar… ₹10 crore was distributed': Ashok Gehlot
Infighting between Ashok Gehlot and Sachin Pilot over the post of chief minister has been going on for a long, an issue which has triggered two political crises in four years of the Congress government.
Ashok Gehlot's angst against Sachin Pilot is out in the open again. In one of the sharpest criticism of the fellow Congress leader, the Rajasthan chief minister on Thursday called Pilot a “gaddar" (traitor), during an interview with NDTV.
“A gaddar (traitor) cannot be chief minister... the Congress high command cannot make Sachin Pilot the chief minister... a man who doesn't have 10 MLAs. Who revolted. He betrayed the party, (he) is a traitor," Gehlot said.
Infighting between Gehlot and Pilot over the post of chief minister has been going on for a long, an issue which has triggered two political crises in four years of the Congress government.
Gehlot's statement comes days after Vijay Singh Bainsla, the Gurjar Arakshan Sangharh Samiti leader, threatened to oppose Rahul Gandhi's Bharat Jodo Yatra in Rajasthan unless his demands, including making Pilot, a prominent face from the community, the chief minister are accepted.
Gehlot also attacked Pilot for not apologising to the party's high command over the revolt in 2020.
The veteran leader also said the Congress can replace him with any of its 102 MLAs in Rajasthan except Pilot if the top leadership feels that the prospects of the party would improve in next year's assembly poll.
When asked about the rebellion by Gehlot's loyalists in September, the chief minister said, "I am telling you. They (Rajasthan Congress MLAs) were angry because the news was spread that Sachin Pilot will be made chief minister. He himself also behaved this way. People thought he is going to be chief minister... Pilot called many MLAs, he said you leave it to the high command, an observer will come to take your views. So, the MLAs felt that there may be a one-line resolution today, tomorrow will be the swearing-in (of Pilot). Because of this rumour, all of them gathered there."
Gehlot alleged that Pilot had met in Delhi with two senior Union ministers. "Amit Shah and Dharmendra Pradhan were involved. They (Pilot included) had a meeting in Delhi," Gehlot alleged, adding that "some got ₹5 crore, some ₹10 crore".
"In fact, the money was picked up from the BJP office in Delhi," Gehlot claimed, adding that the Pilot camp was visited by Pradhan at a time when the Congress emissaries were not given access.
When asked what was their issue if Pilot becomes chief minister, Gehlot said, "How could they bear making Pilot chief minister? People who suffered for 34 days, we know how we survived the 34 days. We had to protest at Raj Bhavan. I was also present there. We worked hard to save the government… A man who doesn't have 10 MLAs. Who revolted, who has been called a traitor. He betrayed the party and is a traitor. How can people accept him?"
He said one will never find an example where a party president "tries to topple his own government".
"The whole game was theirs. ₹10 crore was distributed by the BJP. I have proof," Gehlot said.
Rajasthan BJP chief Satish Punia has, however, denied the charge that the saffron party was involved in paying money to Congress legislators in 2020 to defect.
There have been murmurs in the Rajasthan Congress over a possible change in the leadership, but the same is being resisted by another section too.
Gehlot has been saying that the 90 MLAs who had saved the government during Pilot's rebellion are loyal to the party's high-command and not to him.
He said the legislators wanted Pilot to at least apologise to the party's high command and the people of Rajasthan.
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