Ashok Gehlot | Photo: PTI
Jaipur: In an apparent rebuttal to his former deputy, Sachin Pilot, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot on Thursday said the Congress returned to power in 2018 because of the work done by him in his previous dispensation.
As he said this, he set the target of winning 156 seats in the assembly election due later this year.
Pilot, who has been locked in a power tussle with Gehlot for long, had recently said the return of Congress to power was due to the struggle of the party leaders and workers from 2013 to 2018, when he was the PCC chief.
In one of the public programmes, Pilot also spoke about the need for the older lot to make way for the younger generation of leaders.
Pilot has repeatedly said that the number of Congress MLAs, which had been reduced to 21 in 2013, was shot up only after the party high command made him the Pradesh Congress Committee chief in the state.
Gehlot, without naming Pilot, said the 2013 rout was largely because of the 'Modi wave' but within six months of the BJP government in state, people had realised their mistake.
"So an atmosphere was created and that was a big reason for the Congress to come back. Other reasons are always there, such as the party workers' struggle on the streets. But the main reason was that it was in the mind of people that they had made a mistake by changing the government in 2013," he told reporters after a state Reupulic Day function at Sawai Man Singh Stadium here.
Gehlot said that the BJP has no issues to rake up against his government and there is no anti-incumbency feeling among the people, who are happy with its schemes and programmes.
He said that state schemes such as Chiranjeevi Health Insurance are being talked about across the country, and employees are happy with the revival of the Old Pension Scheme.
"Our path is clear. When our government came in 1998, there were 156 seats, I was the PCC chief then. I would like to move ahead with 'Mission 156'. We have already started work in that direction," he said.
Gehlot said his MLAs supported him and helped him tide over the infight during the political crisis in 2020 that saved his government.
He said he fought hard to save his government and to serve people, and will continue to do so till his "last breath."
"When I speak, I speak after thinking, I do not speak anything without thinking. It is a God's gift to me that when I speak, the voice of my heart comes on my tongue," he said.
"This time there is no resentment among the public, no displeasure with the government, nor is there the Modi wave which was there earlier. I hope people will support me," he said.
On the Opposition, he said that the BJP has mastered the art of "horse trading" and toppling governments, which it has done in other states, but they failed in Rajasthan because of support of the MLAs and the public to him.
The CM said the state BJP has no real issues to target his government with and this is why it has been reprimanded by the high command.
Gehlot said that he and Rajasthan are on the target of BJP and this is the reson BJP chief JP Nadda and other leaders repeatedly come to Rajasthan. PTI