JAIPUR: Hours after blaming Rajasthan Deputy CM and state Congress chief Sachin Pilot for the failure of his son Vaibhav to win the Jodhpur Lok Sabha seat, CM Ashok Gehlot on Tuesday attended an iftar hosted by the former.
Before the Iftar, Pilot spent some time with Gehlot and ministers Raghu Sharma, Govind Singh Dotasara, Pratap Singh besides other leaders in his chamber.
Gehlot’s told to media that the responsibility for Vaibhav's defeat in the Parliament elections “also rests” with Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot ‘for assuring a win'.
The comment had set off a furore and yet again demonstrated the subtle divide within the state Congress.
The Congress lost all 25 Lok Sabha seats in Rajasthan, with Vaibhav Gehlot, the chief minister’s son, losing by 2.7 lakh votes.
Vaibhav trailed by 19,000 votes even in his father’s Assembly segment of Sardarpura.
Gehlot, who was asked on TV whether it was true that Pilot had advised him to field Vaibhav from Jodhpur, replied, “If Pilot said this, then it is a good thing. Because, then the news of differences between us can be dismissed,” he said.
He added, “The fact remains that we lost all 25 seats. Neither the PCC Chief nor the CM is responsible. We all collectively are,” he said. Pilot expressed surprise over the comment but chose not to reply.
The tug of war between Pilot and Gehlot’s camps has grown after the Congress Working Committee’s meeting on May 25 which reviewed the Rajasthan loss.
राजस्थान प्रदेश कांग्रेस कमेटी में आयोजित रोजा इफ्तार कार्यक्रम के दौरान। pic.twitter.com/xdIWIExGIM— Ashok Gehlot (@ashokgehlot51) June 4, 2019
Party president Rahul Gandhi had commented on the insistence of senior party leaders for tickets to their son’s and their efforts being concentrated on such constituencies only, leading to defeats all over.
He had mentioned Gehlot among them. Since that observation, there has been disquiet within Rajasthan Congress too. Gehlot’s statement comes in the wake of attacks on him by Pilot loyalists who have publicly said that the style of functioning of the government was the reason for Congress’s rout.
Senior BJP leader and deputy leader of opposition in Rajasthan assembly Rajendra Singh Rathore noting the statements said, “Nobody needs to bring down this government. It will fall on its own. Sachin Pilot had said in Jodhpur that the election of Vaibhav Gehlot has his guarantee. Now, if he has failed, he should own up and resign.”
Gehlot tried to play down the controversy tweeting, “This was reply to some questions during interview... some sections of the media are making an unnecessary issue out of the context.”
AICC’s communication in charge, Randeep Singh Surjewala came to Gehot’s rescue, tweeting, “Gehlot has clearly talked about the collective responsibility of party and government. It seems, a section of the media has become blind followers of BJP. As such it keeps condemning Congress unnecessarily!”
Roots of the tussle
The ‘war between the Ashok Gehlot and Sachin Pilot camp can be traced to last December when Congress won in the Assembly polls and differences cropped up over who should be the CM.
Gehlot became the CM and Pilot was made his deputy though he was blamed for wrong candidate selections due which 12 party men stood as rebels.
Workers blame Gehlot for concentrating on his son’s win from Jodhpur in the LS polls and not giving time to other candidates, while Pilot has been blamed for camping in his own area in Tonk and not helping out.