Sachin Pilot traitor, can't be made Rajasthan CM: Ashok Gehlot

4 days ago 23
Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot. File

Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot. File | Photo Credit: PTI

Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot called Sachin Pilot a "gaddar" (traitor) on Thursday and said he cannot replace him as he had revolted against the Congress in 2020 and tried to topple his own government.

The remarks have further widened the fissures in the Congress party in Rajasthan, where Assembly polls are slated next year. The Bharat Jodo Yatra, led by Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, is also set to enter the desert State.

Mr. Pilot, who walked alongside Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra in the Bharat Jodo Yatra in Madhya Pradesh on Thursday, did not react to Mr. Gehlot's remarks.

Mr. Gehlot also alleged that Union Home Minister and senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Amit Shah was involved in Mr. Pilot's rebellion, when some Congress MLAs loyal to him were holed up in a Gurugram resort for more than a month and Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan visited them often, claiming that he has proof that an amount of ₹10 crore was paid to each of those legislators, including Pilot.

The veteran leader also said the Congress can replace him with any of its 102 MLAs in Rajasthan except Mr. Pilot if the top leadership feels that the prospects of the party would improve in next year's Assembly polls.

"The MLAs will never accept someone who has revolted and has been dubbed as a gaddar. How can he become the chief minister? How can the MLAs accept such a person as the chief minister? I have proof that ₹10 crore each were distributed to the MLAs holed up in a Gurugram resort for toppling the Congress government in Rajasthan," Mr. Gehlot told NDTV.

He said one will never find an example where a party president "tries to topple his own government".

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.

Mr. Gehlot said if Mr. Pilot had apologised to the MLAs and won them over, things would have been different.

"Till now, he has not apologised. If he had apologised, I would not have had to apologise," the Chief Minister said, referring to his apology to former Congress chief Sonia Gandhi after more than 90 MLAs close to him did not allow a Congress Legislature Party meeting to take place.

Asked if Mr. Pilot can still replace him if the high-command decides so, Mr. Gehlot said it is a hypothetical question. "How will that happen? That cannot happen," he said.

He said a recent meeting of the party MLAs after they did not allow the CLP meet to take place was not a rebellion but a "revolt against Mr. Pilot who tried to topple his own government".

Mr. Gehlot has been saying that the 90 MLAs who had saved the government during Mr. Pilot's rebellion are loyal to the party high-command and not to him.

He said the legislators wanted Mr. Pilot to at least apologise to the party high-command and the people of Rajasthan.

Mr. Gehlot expressed the hope that the Congress high-command will do justice with Rajasthan.

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