Jaipur: Differences between Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot and his deputy Sachin Pilot have further intensified after the former held Pilot responsible for his son’s defeat in the Jodhpur Lok Sabha seat.
The statement by Gehlot, during an interview with ABP News on Monday, is seen as reaction to the questions raised by some state ministers over his leadership. A week ago, Rahul Gandhi remarked during the Congress Working Committee meet that some senior party leaders, including Gehlot, put the interests of their sons above that of the party. It created a turmoil within the Rajasthan Congress, with some state ministers, MLAs and Lok Sabha candidates targeting Gehlot for the party’s loss in the state.
During the interview, Gehlot was asked whether Pilot had vouched for Vaibhav Gehlot in a party meeting over the Jodhpur seat. He replied, “If he [Sachin Pilot] has said this, then it is good. Now, tell me where are the differences between us, as projected by the media?” He continued, “But Pilot said Congress has six MLAs from Jodhpur, we had a fantastic campaign there and will record a historic win. Then, I understand that he should take the responsibility of at least that particular seat. He should analyse the reasons as to why we couldn’t win.”
When the interviewer asked him again if he thinks Pilot is responsible for the loss, he answered, “He [Sachin Pilot] said that we are getting a landslide victory from Jodhpur, and recommended his [Vaibhav Gehlot] name, but we lost all the 25 seats. When someone says it is the responsibility of any PCC president or chief minister, I understand it is a collective responsibility. Everybody is responsible, and party’s loss in all the states is beyond understanding, in itself.”
When The Wire contacted Sachin Pilot, he refused to make any comment. However, Gehlot clarified on Twitter that his reply in the interview was taken “out of context” by some sections of media.
This was reply to some questions during interview…Some sections of the media are making unnecessary issue out of the context. pic.twitter.com/oLk9mQEwiN
— Ashok Gehlot (@ashokgehlot51) June 4, 2019
In Gehlot’s support, Randeep Singh Surjewala, Congress’s in-charge of communications, tweeted, “Ashok Gehlot has clearly mentioned in the interview that it’s the collective responsibility of the government and the party but it seems that a part of the media has become so blind that it doesn’t understand anything expect praising BJP and criticising Congress.”
Most Rajasthan Congress MLAs The Wire spoke to refused to speak over this matter. Saleh Mohammad, MLA from Pokaran, a segment under the Jodhpur parliamentary seat, said, “I don’t know what exactly he [Ashok Gehlot] said. But the performance in elections can’t be the responsibility of any single person. CM, MLAs and party workers are all equally responsible for the defeat.”
Vaibhav Gehlot lost the Jodhpur seat to the Bhartiya Janta Party’s candidate Gajendra Singh Shekhawat by over 7,37,440 votes in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. Vaibhav could not win any of the eight segments of the Jodhpur parliamentary seat. In fact, in Ashok Gehlot’s own constituency Sardarpura, Vaibhav lost by around 18,827 votes.
In the 2018 assembly elections, the Congress registered a win in seven of the ten assembly seats in the district. It was confident of making a mark on this parliamentary seat. However, after it was reduced to a zero in the state for the second consecutive Lok Sabha election, there seems to be a never-ending blame game between the party’s top two in the state.