Ahead of Rahul Gandhi's Bharat Jodo Yatra entering Rajasthan, factionalism has once again come to the fore in the state Congress.
In an interview with NDTV, Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot launched a scathing attack on his former deputy Sachin Pilot, saying "a gaddar (traitor) cannot be the Chief Minister".
"How can people accept a man who does not have even 10 MLAs... Someone who rebelled against the party and has been named a traitor," Gehlot said in a no-holds-barred attack.
Gehlot holding Pilot responsible said that "We sat in hotels for 34 days as this government was being toppled. Amit Shah was also involved. Dharmendra Pradhan was also involved."
When told that Pilot was denying the allegations that he was hand-in-gloves with the BJP, Gehlot said, "i have proof. He cannot deny it. Rs 10 cr to each was distributed."
Asked why the Gehlot camp was not accepting Pilot, Gehlot said, "How will they accept the man who has committed betrayal, our MLAs and I myself suffered, staying in hotels for 34 days?"
On the question of retaining the CM's chair, Gehlot said: Today I am the only one here.
On being asked about a signal from the high command, he said, Leave the signal of the high command, I do not have any indication. I am with the high command. No one will accept Pilot.
Gehlot said, "The high command will do justice to Rajasthan. I have told about my feelings to Ajay Maken and the high command. It is necessary for the government to return in Rajasthan. I have been CM thrice. It is not necessary for me to be CM."
Gehlot said that "you should get a survey done. If the government can come back under my chief ministership, then keep me. If the government can come with another face, then form it. I will not rebel like Amarinder Singh."
On his differences with Sachin Pilot, Gehlot said, "When the Congress won 20 MPs from Rajasthan in the Lok Sabha elections in 2009, I was called to Delhi. When the working committee meeting was held, I was asked about making a minister from Rajasthan. Sachin Pilot is aware, I had recommended making Pilot a minister at the Centre. At that time 70 Gurjars were killed during Vasundhara Raje's government, in a fight between Gurjars-Meenas.
Gehlot said that "I recommended making Sachin Pilot a minister from the Gurjar community thinking this will end the Gurjar-Meena feud. Later, I got a call from Sachin Pilot to recommend his name, whereas I had already recommended it. Only a man with love in his heart could recommend the young man."
On September 25, the news was being spread that Sachin Pilot is being made the CM. Pilot himself behaved as if he was going to become the CM. He told many MLAs that observers are coming, they have to say this.
In these circumstances, the MLAs got confused thinking Pilot was taking oath on the second day of the Legislature Party meeting. That's why 90 MLAs gathered. They are all loyal and stand with the high command. Because of which we stayed in hotels for 34 days, how would the MLAs accept the person who conspired to topple the government, said Gehlot.
Gehlot stated that the rebel MLAs had gone with Pilot to Manesar to the resort where the MLAs of Madhya Pradesh were accommodated. We could not expect that the president of the party would join hands with the opposition to bring down the government of his own party. This has never happened in history till date. For this reason, the MLAs were angry on hearing the name of Pilot, he added.
Two months back, on September 25, the CLP meeting ordered by the Congress high command was boycotted by MLAs as Ministers Shanti Dhariwal, Mahesh Joshi and Dharmendra Rathore called a parallel meeting in which around 92 MLAs tendered their resignation.