As the tussle over leadership between Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and rival Sachin Pilot kept the Rajasthan Congress pot simmering, senior Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Monday tried to strike a balance, calling both leaders “assets” to the party.
His remarks came a day after the party said Gehlot should not have used “certain words” against Pilot.
“I don’t want to get into who said what. Both these leaders are assets to the Congress. But I can say one thing with guarantee that this (feud) will have no impact on the Bharat Jodo Yatra,” Rahul said at a press conference in Indore.
With just days left for the Bharat Jodo Yatra to enter Rajasthan, AICC general secretary in charge of organisation, K C Venugopal, on Saturday reached Jaipur to review the preparations and ensure that the warring leaders remain on the same page so that their tussle does not overshadow or derail the yatra.
One senior leader considered close to Rahul said that replacing Gehlot is easier said than done given his heft and the number of MLAs backing him. He asserted that Pilot had joined the yatra on November 24 on his own and that Rahul had not called him.
The mixed signals indicate the party is keen to keep both Rajasthan leaders in good humour until the yatra leaves the state.
The party leadership does not want differences between Gehlot and Pilot to play out in the open, when the yatra is in the state. Rahul’s balancing act is seen in that context. He refrained from commenting on the war of words between the Rajasthan CM and his former deputy.
His remarks came days after Gehlot said that Pilot cannot be made the chief minister, as party MLAs will not accept a “gaddar” (traitor) who had colluded with the BJP to topple the government in 2020. Gehlot had also alleged that the BJP had given Rs 10 crore to bring down his government.
On Sunday, party general secretary in charge of communication, Jairam Ramesh, had said that “some words used by the chief minister were unexpected” and that he “should not have certain words.”
To a separate question on whether the doors are open for those who had left the party in Madhya Pradesh, thereby bringing down the Kamal Nath government, Rahul indicated that he is not in favour of re-inducting those who had taken money to join the BJP.
“This question should be asked to the Congress president and the party leadership in Madhya Pradesh. My opinion is that if they were bought over with money, then they should not be trusted,” Rahul said.
Jyotiraditya Scindia, who was once close to Rahul, and over two dozen MLAs had left the Congress and joined the BJP in 2020, bringing down the Congress government in MP.