Days after Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot lashed out at Sachin Pilot calling him a ‘gaddar’ or traitor, the two leaders have evidently been forced to bury the hatchet ahead of the Bharat Jodo Yatra’s entry into the state. The Yatra is scheduled to reach Rajasthan on the evening of 4 December and will travel through different parts of the state till the 21st.
In light of this, AICC General Secretary KC Venugopal went to Rajasthan on Tuesday, 29 November, and both Gehlot as well as Pilot showed up at the meeting. The leaders then also addressed a press conference together, asserting that ‘all is well’ and they will work together to make the Rajasthan leg of the yatra a success. But sources said this is only a temporary respite, and the two have only had to put up a cordial façade on Rahul Gandhi’s directions
Gehlot's 'Gaddar' Remark Puts Congress In Panic Mode
Despite the Congress leadership's direction to maintain a peaceful status quo until the end of the Bharat Jodo Yatra, the last few weeks have been replete with Gehlot as well as Pilot’s public outbursts against each other. Last week, in an interview to NDTV, Gehlot called Pilot a “gaddar (who) cannot be Chief Minister.” “The High Command cannot make Sachin Pilot the Chief Minister... a man who doesn't have 10 MLAs. Who revolted. He betrayed the party.. is a traitor,” he had said without mincing words. In response, Pilot asserted that it was “highly unbecoming” of the state’s CM to use such words.
The Congress high command too seemed taken aback by Gehlot’s candid words — especially when the leader is on precarious ground himself after the September crisis when his MLAs did not show up at the CLP meet. Jairam Ramesh, the Congress General Secretary in-charge of Communications first reacted by saying that Gehlot is “senior and experienced political leader” and his issues with Pilot “will be resolved in a manner that strengthens the Congress party”. However, a day later Ramesh called Gehlot’s remarks “unexpected” and that the CM should not have used those words.
The Congress knows it cannot afford public brawls like this at a time when Rahul Gandhi is leading an unprecedented march across the country, in an attempt to reinvigorate the party organisation and also connect with the masses. Rahul Gandhi, in response to media queries about whether the continued face-off between the two leaders will impact the yatra, said “It will not affect the yatra and both the leaders are assets to the Congress party.”
Sources said that after this statement, KC Venugopal was tasked with going to Rajasthan and putting a lid on the issues between the two leaders at least till the yatra crosses the state.
'Rahul Gandhi Has Said We Are Both Assets': Gehlot
At the meeting, Rajasthan Congress president Govind Singh Dotasra, Venugopal, Gehlot, Pilot and other leaders of the state discussed plans for the Bharat Jodo Yatra. However, sources said that the party leadership sent out a message via Venugopal to both Gehlot and Pilot to get their act together ahead of the Rahul Gandhi-led yatra’s entry in the state. “They were issued strict directives that if discipline is breached one more time, there will be action,” a state Congress leader said.
Gehlot was also asked to come in front of the media and issue a forward-looking statement, sources said. “Yesterday Rahul Gandhi said that both of us are respected leaders and assets...Our party has this quality that when the top leader has said something, we all respect it and value it. We will work together,” Gehlot told media.
Venugopal, when asked if any disciplinary action will be taken, said that he is in touch with the Rajasthan Pradesh Congress Committee (RPCC) regarding the same. He added that both Gehlot and Pilot are on board with the preparation for the yatra and will work to win the 2023 Rajasthan elections together.
Leadership Directs Rajasthan Leaders to Keep Things Together Till End Of Yatra
Earlier this month, when Gehlot praised PM Modi during an event, Pilot saw it as an opportunity to question if the CM will join the likes of Ghulam Nabi Azad, who quit the Congress after sharing pleasantries with the PM in the parliament. Pilot also sought to remind the leadership of its promise to act against indiscipline and expressed his restlessness.
But the party has been dragging its feet on taking a conclusive decision on the leadership crisis in the state to avert any embarrassing fallout that could sabotage the Bharat Jodo Yatra. Leaders of other states, including Madhya Pradesh too, have been told to keep their house in order and not allow any grievances to be aired publicly.
Sources however said that Pilot has been “promised by the party leadership that an action will be taken once the yatra is over”.