Congress leader Sachin Pilot addresses a press conference at his residence, in Jaipur, Tuesday, May 9, 2023 | Photo: PTI
Jaipur: Dissident Congress leader Sachin Pilot on Monday cited his party's victory in the Karnataka Assembly polls to push for action by the Ashok Gehlot government over alleged corruption during the previous BJP rule in Rajasthan.
As the assembly polls approach in Rajasthan, the former deputy chief minister mounted pressure on Chief Minister Gehlot and the party's top leadership with a five-day yatra which ended Monday with a big rally in Jaipur.
In an effort to corner Gehlot, Pilot has been demanding action over accusations of corruption made by the Congress ahead of the Rajasthan polls in 2018.
In an interview to PTI before the Jaipur rally, he compared the situation now in Karnataka, where the Congress has swept the assembly polls, with that in Rajasthan in 2018.
“We levelled allegations of corruption against the BJP government in Karnataka. The Congress has got a mandate there and if no action against corruption by the (BJP's) Bommai government is taken, will people listen to us after five years?” he said.
“This is the situation here in Rajasthan. So I want action taken on this,” he added.
Pilot's argument is that the Congress levelled corruption charges against the BJP government of Vasundhara Raje ahead of the 2018 elections, and people expected it to act on the issue once it came to power.
He asked how he could be wrong in talking about corruption that took place during the term of the previous BJP government in the state.
Pilot, who is locked in a leadership tussle with Gehlot in the state, said he will continue to raise the issue in the future as well.
At the rally later, he was more categorical. He threatened to launch a major agitation if his demands are not met by the month-end. About 15 Congress MLAs shared the dais with him in the show of strength.
In 2018 the party's top leadership faced in Rajasthan a dilemma of the kind it encounters in Karnataka where it is forced to pick between two CM aspirants – D K Shivakumar and Siddaramaiah.
The party had then gone with Gehlot, disappointing Pilot who claimed to have led the Congress to victory as the president of the state unit.
Pilot said when Gehlot was given the opportunity by the party to run the state government for the first time in 1998 he was just 47 or 48 years old, and veteran Congress leaders of that time followed the party discipline.
Pilot (45) was possibly alluding to the argument that he is too young to become the chief minister.
He also criticised Gehlot loyalist and minister Shanti Dhariwal's recent remark that the CM has shown several big leaders their place.
Reacting to Gehlot's recent remark that he never boasted about how he won 156 seats for the Congress in 1998, Pilot said no one can boast or take credit for something like this.
It is the party which contests elections and votes are given on policies and principles, he said.
When asked about the state government schemes, Pilot said, “A good budget comes, good announcements are made, good policy is made. But why don't we get the votes? It is the reality and the bitter truth.”
He said he has raised several issues on party platforms to ensure this doesn't happen in the coming Rajasthan elections.
Pilot has been asking the party to resolve “issues” he had raised in 2020 when he and 18 other Congress MLAs revolted against Gehlot's leadership.
When asked about reports that he has decided to quit the Congress if issues concerning him are not addressed, Pilot called it speculation created by the media.
He said the Congress party got huge support in the 2018 elections on the promise that it will take action on “corruption” by the then Vasundhara Raje-led BJP government.
But no action was taken, he said. So he wrote letters to the CM for one and a half years, and then held a one-day fast in Jaipur last month.
On party leaders calling his foot march from Ajmer to Jaipur a “personal” yatra, the leader said the issues raised by him got huge support from the public.
“People are coming together on these issues despite the scorching heat, they are walking with me. The support one can see on the road is the support for the issues which I am raising,” he said.
At the rally, he gave the Gehlot government an ultimatum to agree to three demands, including a high-level probe into “corruption” by the BJP government.
The dissident leader also demanded the reconstitution of the Rajasthan Public Service Commission (RPSC) over exam paper leaks, and compensation for aspirants who suffered due to this. PTI