JAIPUR: Ahead of the bypolls to four Assembly seats, the ruling Congress in Rajasthan put up a united face with Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and his former deputy Sachin Pilot flying together in a helicopter and addressing two farmer mahapanchayats on Saturday.
It was in July last year that Pilot had revolted against Gehlot, resulting in a political crisis in the state.
The month-long crisis had ended after the intervention of party leader Rahul Gandhi.
Gehlot and Pilot, along with AICC general secretary Ajay Maken and state Congress chief Govind Singh Dotasra, flew in a helicopter from Jaipur and addressed the rallies in Bikaner's Dungargarh and Chittorgarh's Matrakundiya.
It is the first time since the 2019 Lok sabha elections when Gehlot and Pilot travelled by air together.
Both leaders were seen together during Rahul Gandhi's two-day visit to Rajasthan recently.
Maken and Dotasra shared the photo of all the four sitting in a chopper on Twitter.
Commenting on the photo, BJP state president Satish Poonia said Gehlot was smiling but what "pain" Pilot was hiding.
People of the state have been paying the price of this smile for the past two and a half years, Poonia tweeted.
On the other hand, Health Minister Raghu Sharma said the Congress is united under the leadership of Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi.
With the "mahapanchayats" on Saturday, the Congress launched the party's campaign for the bypolls to Sujangarh (Churu), Sahada (Bhilwara), Vallabhnagar (Udaipur) and Rajsamand assembly seats.
While the mahapanchayat in Dungargarh was close to the Sujangarh constituency in Churu, the mahapanchayat in Matrikundiya of Chittorgarh was near the other three Assembly seats.
The bypolls were necessitated by the demise of sitting MLAs Kailash Trivedi (Sahada), Gajendra Singh Shaktawat (Vallabhnagar), Master Bhanwarlal Meghwal (Sujangarh) and Kiran Maheshwari (Rajsamand).
Barring the Rajsamand seat, which was held by BJP leader Kiran Maheshari, the other three were held by the Congress.
While Meghwal, who was a minister in the Ashok Gehlot cabinet, had died due to a brain stroke, Trivedi, Maheshwari and Shaktawat died from coronavirus.
At present, the ruling Congress has 104 MLAs and the BJP 71 in the 200-member Assembly.
Thirteen are independents, while the RLP has 3 MLAs, BTP 2, CPI (M) 2 and the RLD 1.