Pilot denies ‘bitterness’ between him and Gehlot

Pilot said that he felt that there should be some changes in leadership and in the state government to change people’s perception …reports Asian Lite News

Congress MLA Sachin Pilot said that the frequent run-ins between him and former Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot should not be construed as “bitterness” but as differences in approach between the two leaders.

“There is no ‘bitterness’. In politics, it is all about achieving the objective from different ways. I have a different way of approaching things. You may have a different way of approaching things. But the end objective is to form the government. We were not able to do so,” Pilot said in an exclusive interview with ANI.

Explaining his point, Pilot said that he felt that there should be some changes in leadership and in the state government to change people’s perception of the government in Rajasthan when the Congress was in power.

“There is a difference between change in leadership and change in government. We had some issues where we felt that to win the election in Rajasthan we must do something different. If we do the same thing, we will get the same results. Something different must be done to change people’s perception that we will not repeat ourselves. There were some important issues, which I thought were important,” Pilot said.

Pilot was the Deputy Chief Minister in Rajasthan in 2020 as well as the state president of the Congress. However, he was sacked from both these posts after he led a revolt against then-Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot.

Pilot who has now been promoted to the All India Congress Committee General Secretary in charge of Chhattisgarh said that the party took up the issues highlighted by him and did some “course correction” before the Assembly elections.

“Those issues were brought up to the party and I am glad that Mr Kharge, Rahul ji, Priyanka ji, Sonia Gandhi ji all decided to do some course correction just before the elections,” he said.

Speaking about the benefits of the changes brought in by the Congress in Rajasthan in the poll results, Pilot said, “I think that helped us. We have 71 MLAs today as opposed to 20 or 50. So we did increase but we were not able to make the cut and repeat the government. But the difference in vote share was one or two per cent only between the Congress and BJP.”

Dismissing the claims made by Ashok Gehlot’s former OSD that the former Chief Minister had asked him to tap Pilot’s phone, he said, “Some statement by some individuals keeps going on in politics. People keep saying and alleging things. There is no end to it. But the hard fact is that we fought and we tried hard, we came close but didn’t win.”

Speaking about his revolt in 2020 against Ashok Gehlot, Pilot said that nothing was kept “hidden” and the party took cognizance of his issues and formed a committee to look into them.

“Whatever happened took place before everyone. There was nothing that was hidden. Ultimately the Congress party formed a committee to look into the issues that many of our colleagues raised. Once those issues were formally taken over by the committee, there was change in the Council of Ministers, people were made chairmen of boards, corporations and the party structure. We did some course correction,” he said.

Referring to the events of September last year when loyalists of the Gehlot camp did not allow a Congress legislature party meeting to take place, Pilot said that it would have been better if the meeting had taken place.

“The Congress party also sent observers to Rajasthan at one point to have a meeting of the MLAs on September 25, 2023. That meeting didn’t take place, unfortunately. This had never happened before. The Congress Legislative Party meeting could not take place. Kharge and Ajay Maken had gone as observers…A lot of things happened afterwards…We don’t know how the meeting would have ended up. But it would have been better if the meeting had taken place,” he said.

Opposing the claim that the Congress had a lackadaisical attitude in dealing with the crisis of leadership in Rajasthan, Pilot said that the party did take up the issues pointed out by him and took some concrete steps.

“When I took up the issues, which I thought were people’s issues, there were some corruption issues, some paper leak issues, the party did take action. They formed a committee, and they looked into how to course correct,” he said.

Pointing out that there was no Dalit Minister in the Ashok Gehlot government, Pilot said that Congress took proactive steps on his insistence.

“For example, in the Rajasthan Council of Ministers, there was no Dalit Minister for a year-and-a-half, almost two years. I thought that was not correct. Because the number of SCs who had won on a Congress ticket was far higher. In the previous term, we had zero Dalit MLAs. This time a lot of MLAs got elected from the Dalit community. I wanted someone from the community to be a Minister in the cabinet. It was done later on,” the former Deputy Chief Minister said.

“The party at the highest level did intervene. A committee was formed. There were changes in the government, Mr Maken was in charge of the state at that time. Following that, the AICC did send observers to talk to the MLAs and do whatever was instructed to them. It is a different issue that the meeting did not take place. That is unfortunate. But there is no point getting into it now,” he added.

Rubbishing the claim that the rivalry between him and Ashok Gehlot led to a dent in the party’s electoral results in Rajasthan, Pilot said that compared to their previous tally in seats when the party lost in the state, the Congress is in a better position now with 71 out of 200 seats.

“In the elections before this, out of 200 seats, when we were last in government, we got 21 out of 200 seats. We formed the government and then the elections happened, we got 52 seats. This time we have 71 MLAs out of 200. I don’t think it has impacted. In fact, we have made it better. When we used to fight elections and lose we stayed around 20-21 seats or 50-55. Nevertheless, we didn’t form the government,” Pilot said.

Pilot said that the Congress wanted to change the convention of people voting every government out of power in Rajasthan, but failed to do so.

“We all collectively fought to win the election. For 30 years we used to win the election and then lose. This time we wanted to form a government again. I think it is most disappointing that in both Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan we were not able to form the government. People expected us to form the government. We could not do so. There may be lots of reasons for this,” he said.

Pilot said that after voting for the Bharatiya Janata Party in the Assembly elections, people in Rajasthan have got a sense that they need to “balance the political landscape” and the Congress’ tally will increase.

“There has been a new government for the last four months. I don’t think it has left a mark with the people of Rajasthan. In these four months, people think that they have done enough and they need to now balance the political landscape. There is a certain change. Our candidates are much better in Rajasthan. We all campaigned very hard and I think Rajasthan is one of those states where we will have maximum increase in our tally,” he said. (ANI)

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