Congress’s Sachin Pilot, publicly called a “gaddar (traitor)” by Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, told NDTV today that he felt “sad and “hurt” about the jibes. He, however, stuck to his official position that the leadership issue “is up to the party” and “all of us have to work together”.
“Yes, I am a politician. But I am also a human being. I did feel sad and hurt. I don’t want to go into the past,” he told NDTV in an exclusive interview.
“In public life I maintain a dignity in discourse… But you have to move on. And I have a job at hand and a mission at hand. We have to move forward,” added the leader, who with his grassroot-level work, was seen as a key contributor to the party’s victory in the 2018 assembly election in the state.
The bad blood between Mr Pilot and Mr Gehlot, which frequently places the Congress on the backfoot in Rajasthan, had spilled over days before Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra was to enter Rajasthan.
In face of the urgent need for a united front, Mr Gehlot and Mr Pilot made a joint appearance and declare that the party “is supreme for us”. But there was concern about the presence of undercurrents.
Last month, in an exclusive interview to NDTV, Mr Gehlot had said, “A gaddar (traitor) cannot be Chief Minister. The High Command cannot make Sachin Pilot the Chief Minister… a man who doesn’t have 10 MLAs. Who revolted. He betrayed the party, (he) is a traitor.”
The remarks had thrown the Congress into consternation and the party had said it would not hesitate to take “tough decisions”. The promise of action was not a new one. Similar statements were made after the open rebellion by Mr Gehlot’s loyalists and put in cold storage soon after.
Amid the row, Rahul Gandhi, passing through Maharashtra with the Yatra, declared that both leaders are “assets to Congress”.
The signal was not missed, and a day later, the two leaders made the joint appearance and declared that despite the atmosphere of tension in the country, “the success of the yatra shows that people fully support the issues raised by Rahul Gandhi”.
The Bharat Jodo Yatra is expected to have a major impact in Rajasthan, where assembly elections are due next year. With the state having a track record of voting out the incumbent, the Congress has its task cut out to buck the trend and get a second term in power.
Asked if a change in leadership can pave the way for a Congress comeback, Mr Pilot said, “Leadership issue is up to the party. All of us have to work together… If we work now, we can form the government… revolving door of politics can change. Anti-incumbency can change to pro-incumbency. In many states, we have repeated. Congress governments have repeated”.