Pratap Kachariyawas, Rajasthan minister and an Ashok Gehlot loyalist, gave a spin to the turmoil in the party today. At a press conference, he implied that installing Sachin Pilot as the Rajasthan Chief Minister once Ashok Gehlot moves to Delhi, will amount to handing the state over to the BJP.
“The Enforcement Directorate, the Income Tax department, CBI officials are sitting in Rajasthan. BJP’s game has started,” Mr Kachariyawas told reporters.
“The BJP is again engaged in a conspiracy to topple the Rajasthan government,” he added in what is being seen as an attempt to change the narrative in face of the wrath of the Gandhis.
Sources said the Gandhis have been hugely upset with Mr Gehlot over the rebellion by his loyalists. His claim that he was at a temple in the border area where there was no cellphone connectivity, has not convinced any leader in Delhi.
Mr Gehlot had initially apologised to Central observer Mallikarjun Kharge, before whom Sunday’s drama had unfolded in Jaipur. Calling the parallel meeting of the MLAs and their subsequent rebellion a “mistake”, he had said it “should not have happened”.
But with many of the key leaders in Delhi accusing the Chief Minister of “humiliating” the Congress, Team Gehlot fought back.
The first move was to attack Central observer Ajay Maken, accusing him of bias in favour of Mr Pilot. “He (Ajay Maken) is canvassing for Pilot and wants to make him the Chief Minister,” said MLA Shanti Dhariwal, who had hosted a parallel meet of the MLAs on Sunday.
Today, the BJP angle was added to it. Mr Kachariyawas referred to Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra, where the BJP formed government after mass defection by Congress MLAs.
“But if the BJP has failed to topple the government anywhere, it is Rajasthan,” he said. The nudge was about Sachin Pilot’s rebellion in 2020, when many accused of him being hand-in-glove with the BJP.
One of 90-plus MLAs who flagrantly flouted Sonia Gandhi’s instructions for one-on-one meets, Mr Kachariyawas also professed allegiance to the party and the Gandhis. “Numbers matter in democracy… we want our voice to be heard,” he added.
Mr Gehlot had been extremely reluctant to leave Rajasthan and take up the national role, even suggesting to the Gandhis that he could handle both jobs.
But Rahul Gandhi had negated it, asserting that the party would stick to a “one man, one role” policy. Mr Gehlot, a front-runner for the party’s top job, had backed off. But the matter was taken up by his loyalists, who held the party to ransom with a threat of mass resignation.