Focus is on future: Rajasthan Congress in-charge on Gehlot-Sachin tussle


Jaipur: The Congress’ Rajasthan in-charge Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa on Saturday said he does not want to “carry too much of the past” and the focus should be on the future, virtually rebuffing party leader Sachin Pilot who had questioned the delay in action over a parallel meeting by the Gehlot camp in September in defiance of the central leadership.

Amid continuing rumblings in the state unit, Pilot called on AICC representatives and other leaders to go among the people ad workers on the ground and “understand their feelings” as the assembly elections inch closer.

A Congress Legislature Party meeting was called on September 25 last year at Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot’s residence regarding a change in leadership but it could not take place as MLAs loyal to the chief minister called a parallel meeting and submitted their resignations against any move to appoint Pilot as chief minister.

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On April 23, Pilot referred to the September 25 incident and said it was an open violation of the orders of the then Congress president Sonia Gandhi. “Mallikarjun Kharge and Ajay Maken were openly insulted. Why hasn’t action been taken against them yet? This is the question, the answer lies with the party,” he had said.

Asked about Pilot’s charge, Randhawa on Saturday referred to the rebellion by the Pilot camp in July 2020.

“Some people say there was a rebellion before Corona (pandemic). I do not want to carry too much of the past, I want to talk about the future,” he told reporters here.

“We should think about the future and take lessons from the past so that such mistakes do not happen in the future,” he added.

In July 2020, Pilot and 18 other Congress MLAs revolted against Gehlot’s leadership, which led to a political crisis in the state that lasted for one month. The crisis ended after the party leadership intervened and assured Pilot that it will look into the issues raised by him.

With a flurry of meetings among Rajasthan Congress leaders, speculation was rife about a possible cabinet reshuffle in the state to quell factionalism in the party unit.

Randhawa on Saturday held separate meetings with the ministers and also called Assembly Speaker C P Joshi, while Pilot also has an “informal” meeting with Joshi.

After meeting the Speaker, Randhawa was asked about the possibility of a cabinet reshuffle in the state ahead of the year-end assembly elections.

“If everyone says then we will do but I think we do not have any such plan right now,” he said.

Party sources also noted that the leadership is at present focused on the Karnataka polls

Prior to Randhawa, Pilot also met Joshi and called it an informal meeting.

The party earlier in the week appointed Amrita Dhawan and Virendra Singh Rathore as AICC co-in charge of Rajasthan, while Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa remains the in-charge of the state.

“Changes in the organisation take place from time to time. Elections are six months away, so people have been given responsibility and I think it will send a good message,” Pilot said.

“I want all of us, whether they are representatives of AICC or those handling the work of the party organisation, to go to the ground, talk to the people and understand the feelings of the workers,” he said.

Earlier, Randhawa said he was taking feedback from the ministers and had asked them to strengthen the party organisation.

“I have told the ministers that you should work for the organisation as well as the government. Elections are about the organisation and the government, so I am talking to them to strengthen the organisation,” he said.

Gehlot and Pilot have been at loggerheads ever since the party picked the former as the chief minister in December 2018. Their tussle for power has often spilled into the public.

After his rebellion in July 2020, the party removed him as deputy chief minister and state Congress chief.

On April 11 this year, Pilot again opened a front against his own party’s government by sitting on a day-long fast in Jaipur, alleging inaction by it in cases of alleged corruption during the previous Vasundhara Raje dispensation.

Pilot said the Congress raised the issue of corruption when the party was in opposition from 2013 to 2018 and promised in the 2018 polls that action would be taken if it forms the government in Rajasthan.

However, no action was taken in over four years of the Congress government, he said.

Randhawa had then said any such protest amounts to anti-party activity and goes against the party’s interest.

The Congress also threw its weight behind Gehlot and said that its government has implemented schemes that have benefited people and the party will seek a renewed mandate later this year “on the strength of these landmark achievements and the collective efforts of our organisation”.

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( With inputs from )

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