In one of the sharpest criticism of his fellow Congress leader, Gehlot told NDTV in an interview that Pilot cannot replace him as he had revolted against the party in 2020 and tried to topple his own government.
“The MLAs will never accept a person who has revolted against the party and the government. He has been labelled a gaddar (traitor). The man does not have the support of even 10 MLAs, how can he become the CM? How can the MLAs accept such a person?,” said Gehlot, adding that he has proof that Rs 10 crore each were distributed to the MLAs holed up in a Gurugram resort for toppling the Congress government in Rajasthan.
He further claimed that BJP leader Amit Shah was actively involved in Pilot’s rebellion and that Union minister Dharmendra Pradhan had visited the MLAs often.
The remarks have further widened the fissures in the Congress unit of Rajasthan, which is set to go to the polls next year.
‘Will accept anyone except Pilot’
Gehlot has said the Congress is welcome to replace him with any of its 102 MLAs in Rajasthan, except Pilot, if the party thinks it will improve its poll prospects.
Meanwhile, the Bharat Jodo Yatra led by Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, is set to enter the desert state by next week. Pilot, who walked alongside Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra in the Bharat Jodo Yatra in Madhya Pradesh on Thursday, did not react to Gehlot’s remarks.
Gehlot’s latest attack comes days after Vijay Singh Bainsla, the Gurjar Arakshan Sangharh Samiti leader, threatened to oppose Rahul’s Bharat Jodo Yatra in Rajasthan unless his demands — including making Pilot the CM — are accepted.
Recent turmoil not a revolt: Gehot
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, Gehlot said that had Pilot 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 CM said, adding that the recent political turmoil in the state was not a rebellion but a “revolt against Pilot who tried to topple his own government”.
The CM said said one will never find an example where a party president “tries to topple his own government”.
Gehlot and Pilot have been at loggerheads over chief ministership ever since the Congress won the Rajasthan polls in 2018.
While Gehlot has been saying that Pilot’s 2020 rebellion cannot be ignored and that he does not enjoy the support of a majority of the Congress MLAs, the Pilot camp has been claiming that the legislators want a change in leadership.
Gehlot has maintained that the 90 MLAs who had saved the government during Pilot’s rebellion are loyal to the party high-command and not to him. He said the legislators wanted Pilot to at least apologise to the party high-command and the people of Rajasthan.
(With inputs from agencies)