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Tuesday, Sep 27, 2022

Nikamma, ragdai, a no-words-barred Gehlot-Pilot tussle

Words first used by Gehlot against Sachin Pilot during the 2020 political crisis resurface in Rajasthan.

Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot with former deputy CM Sachin Pilot. (Express Archives)

The word “nikamma” and “ragdai”– first used by Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot in 2020 to refer to former deputy CM Sachin Pilot as he rebelled against the party with a group of MLAs – have reappeared in the Rajasthani political discourse. Almost two years later, a statement by Pilot on June 27 set off a range of reactions, replete with explanations on the usage and context of the words, from both factions of the party.

In July 2020, in the backdrop of Pilot rebelling and camping in Delhi and Haryana along with 18 loyal MLAs, in an alleged bid to join the BJP, Gehlot had said: “Hum jaante they ye nikamma hai, nakara hai, kuch kaam nahi kar raha hai, khali logon ko ladwa raha hai.( We knew he was useless and worthless, and was merely trying to make people fight). By this point, Pilot was removed from the posts of deputy chief minister and state Congress president.

The crisis subsequently faded away and Pilot did not leave the party, but it continues to be at the centre of a tug of war in the state.

On June 26, Gehlot alleged that Pilot was hand-in-glove with BJP leader Gajendra Singh Shekhawat to topple his government at the time.

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A day later, on June 27, Pilot responded that despite being called a “nikamma” and “nakara” (useless and worthless), he considered Gehlot to be “pitatulya’” (a father figure). He added: “At times he says something but I don’t take him otherwise”.

The statement set off a chain of reactions.

Cabinet minister Ramlal Jat, who is known to be a Gehlot loyalist, quickly retorted by elaborating the meaning of the word, and voicing his support for Gehlot.

“If a kid doesn’t work at a house, his guardian calls him “nikamma”. Some people who deliberately trouble others, we call him “nikamma’’ too. Those who indulge in petty talks are also called “nikamma”. The CM knows it very well, that who is of what designation. I support whatever he said because he talks only after proper deliberation and in the interest of public,” said Jat on July 5.

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A day later, Congress MLA Ved Prakash Solanki, a known Pilot loyalist and one of the MLAs who sided with him in July  2020, was prompt to voice his disagreement with Jat.

“I don’t agree with him because there should be decency in politics. The public of Rajasthan can see which words are right, which words are wrong, and the public will decide”.

As the Pilot camp expressed its displeasure with Jat’s statement, Jat found endorsement from the CM himself.

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“Ramlal Jat has spoken rightly about the definition of “nikamma”. When someone in the neighbourhood quarrels, kids fight with each other, we say that he is a “nikamma, nakara”, I will call him and scold. This is what happens,” said Gehlot, at a party event on July 6.

He added: “Now, if I say this with affection, they will take offence. What can I do about this?”

At the same event he responded to the “nikamma” comment, Pilot also shared his take on “ragdai” (hard work), another word Gehlot deployed to reference Pilot.

“Inki ragdai nahin hui thi (They haven’t toiled)…that is why they have a problem in understanding. (Pilot) became a central minister, PCC president (Rajasthan Pradesh Congress Committee). If he had toiled, then could have worked much better,” Gehlot had said in July 2020, implying that Pilot, the son of former Union Minister Rajesh Pilot, had gotten lucrative posts easily.

Pilot hit back, emphasising not just his role as a PCC president who had brought the party to power in 2018, but also the word “ragdai”.

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“Vasundhara ji’s government did everything it could do to us. Hamne lathiyan bhi khai, sangharsh bhi kiya, aur khub ragdai karne ke baad, khub ragdai karne ke baad hi ye sarkar bani Congress ki sarkar (We got beaten up by sticks, struggled and after a lot of toiling, lot of toiling, the Congress government was formed).”

In August 2020, the BJP had also defended Pilot over Gehlot’s statements. Speaking in the Assembly, BJP leader Rajendra Rathore had said: “Gehlot saab, you said that he hasn’t toiled. Gehlot saab, you became an MP in 1980 at the age of 29. You became a central minister in 1984 at the age of 33, and became the CM in 1998 at the age of 47. Pilot saab became a central minister at the age of 32 and became deputy CM at the age of 43. Now who should have toiled and how?”

First published on: 12-07-2022 at 06:29:02 pm
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