Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot said his deputy Sachin Pilot should take responsibility for the party’s defeat in the Jodhpur Lok Sabha constituency contested by his son Vaibhav Gehlot.
In a repeat of 2014, the Congress failed to win a single seat in Rajasthan this time. The BJP won 24 seats and ally the Rashtriya Loktantrik Party (RLP) won one. In an interview with ABP news channel, Gehlot said Pilot, who is also the Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) chief, should take responsibility for the party’s defeat at least in Jodhpur as he had earlier vouched for his son’s victory from the seat.
“Sachin Pilot said we will win the Jodhpur seat by a big majority. We already have six MLAs there and our campaign was strong. Then why did we lose? There should be a post mortem of the party’s loss,” he said, adding that if Pilot had vouched for Vaibhav’s victory in the seat, he should own up the loss too.
The Chief Minister’s son Vaibhav Gehlot lost by over 2.7 lakh votes to BJP leader and Union Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat. Gehlot further said the party should take collective responsibility for the poll debacle in the state. Contesting reports of a feud between him and Pilot in the state, Gehlot said there is a “misunderstanding in the media that the chief minister and deputy CM do not get along.”
Clarifying his stance, Gehlot later posted a video of the interview on Twitter and alleged some sections of the media are making “unnecessary issue out of the context.
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
Meanwhile, senior leaders of the state Congress criticised the chief minister for his statement. “The statement by the chief minister is totally wrong and against the interest of the party. He himself should take responsibility for the Jodhpur seat,” Congress MLA Prithviraj Meena was quoted as saying by PTI. Rajendra Chaudhary, a Congress leader from Jodhpur said, “The statement is surprising. Gehlot should take the responsibility for the Jodhpur seat because it has been his domain for 40 years.”
Prior to the elections, there was a rumbling in the party’s Rajasthan unit over Vaibhav’s candidature. Pilot had then went on record to say “that it will be better if options other than an incumbent Rajya Sabha MP, MLA, or those who have lost elections, or relatives of a politician, are searched. But whoever is in a position of winnability, or is liked by workers… will be our priority.”
The same evening, Gehlot’s office held a press conference, where the CM let slip in, “Had I wanted to give him (Vaibhav) an opportunity, I would have given it 10 years ago. I have always told him I’m the Chief Minister and woh mere khaate mein nahin aata (it’s not up to me).”
Following the poll debacle in the state, Congress president Rahul Gandhi referred to Gehlot, while speaking at the Congress Working Committee (CWC) about senior leaders who put the interests of their sons above that of the party during the Lok Sabha elections. Gandhi is learnt to have told the CWC that Gehlot had spent about a week campaigning for his son in Jodhpur while neglecting the rest of the state.