India

After Rajasthan Truce, Ashok Gehlot's Message For Team Pilot

After Rajasthan Truce, Ashok Gehlot's Message For Team Pilot

The Chief Minister is seen to have won this round in the internal rivalry.

New Delhi:

Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, believed to be upset over his adversary Sachin Pilot reconciling with the Congress and making a comeback after a meeting with Rahul Gandhi, evaded any response today when asked how he would go back to working with someone he had called “nikamma” (useless). He also said it was his responsibility to address grievances of “MLAs who are annoyed” with him.

Asked about the truce with the rebels, the Chief Minister said he would “give them a warm hug if party leadership decides to forgive the rebel MLAs".

Sachin Pilot, whom he sacked as his deputy, returns to Rajasthan today, a month after he launched his revolt. Among the terms of his return to the gold was a grievance panel, including Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, to address the complaints of 19 rebel MLAs.

"If any MLA is annoyed with me, then it is my responsibility to address that. I have kept doing this in the past and will do this now also," Ashok Gehlot said, but questioned why the rebels went and “what promises” were made to them.

Sources say Chief Minister Gehlot, who, unlike the party's measured criticism, had gone all out against his sacked deputy, was not entirely on board with the truce.

In the past month, Mr Gehlot had publicly accused Mr Pilot of deal-making with the BJP to pull down his government. He also labelled the 42-year-old leader as "nikamma" (useless) and derided him as a politician who influenced the media with only looks and good English.

As he avoided uncomfortable questions on Mr Pilot, the Chief Minister focused on attacking the BJP as he spoke to reporters before taking a special flight to Jaisalmer, where he reportedly has some 100 resentful Congress MLAs to handle. “They were with me all along. The BJP tried every trick in the book, but failed to break us. They were offered money, posts, but they did not leave. I have told these MLAs, till I am alive, I will always be their guardian and look after them,” Mr Gehlot said.

“The BJP tried to take us down but does not know what hit them. The government of the day has lost its mind and is blatantly and shamelessly indulging in dirty politics just to gain more and more power. Never in India's history have we seen a more shameless government. Time has now come to teach them a lesson,” he remarked.

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The MLAs, sequestered at Suryagarh hotel in the city in anticipation of a trust vote in the special assembly session on Friday, are feeling “let down and disillusioned”, say sources, and senior Congress leaders have been trying to calm them down.

On Sunday night, the MLAs had said at a meeting that the rebels should be punished for their “betrayal” and should not be allowed back.