Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot Saturday once again put his former deputy Sachin Pilot in the crosshairs, this time saying that Union Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat’s comment proves that the two were hand in glove during the 2020 rebellion against him.
Talking to journalists in Sikar, Gehlot, while talking about Shekhawat, said, “Ab aap jo Sachin Pilot ka naam le rahe ho, ki unhone chook kar di, toh aur proof ho gya, thappa laga diya aapne khud ne ki aap unke saath mile hue the (You are taking Sachin Pilot’s name that he missed out, so it’s further proof, you have stamped it yourself, that you were hand in glove with him).”
Recently, addressing a programme in Jaipur, Shekhawat said Pilot committed a chook (an error) during the 2020 political crisis, and that if he hadn’t, work on the Eastern Rajasthan Canal Project (ERCP) would have begun. The ambitious ERCP aims to provide drinking water to 13 districts in eastern Rajasthan, with the Congress government demanding that it be declared a ‘National Project’.
Shekhawat’s reference was to the sequence of events in mid-2020, when Pilot had led a rebellion of 19 MLAs that had ultimately proved unsuccessful. Pilot was removed as both deputy CM and state party president after that.
The crisis continues to be at the centre of a tug of war between the Congress government and Shekhawat. While Congress Chief Whip and now minister Mahesh Joshi had filed a case in 2020 naming Shekhawat and others for allegedly scheming to topple the Gehlot government, Shekhawat filed a case in New Delhi in 2021 against Gehlot’s OSD Lokesh Sharma and others for allegedly tapping phones.
So while Lokesh Sharma continues to appear for hearings in the case, the Rajasthan Anti-Corruption Bureau recently served a court notice to Shekhawat in connection with the leaked audio tapes.
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On Saturday, Gehlot said that the notice to Shekhawat was in fact “served late”. “He kept evading, but ultimately the court notice has been served. What is his issue with giving voice (sample)? He has already accepted before the court in Delhi that it is his voice, police there have accepted in an affidavit. When he has lodged a case against Lokesh Sharma, it is a case of ulta chor kotwal ko daante (pot calling the kettle black),” the CM said.
“You played the main role in (trying to) topple the government and everyone knows you have been exposed. When that (audio) came and there was a voice, the world knows that it is your voice, you yourself conspired to topple the government. You are taking Sachin Pilot’s name that he made a mistake, so it’s further proof, you have stamped it yourself that you were hand in glove with him,” Gehlot said.
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