Rahul Gandhi, reacting today to an NDTV interview in which Ashok Gehlot called his Rajasthan rival Sachin Pilot a “gaddar (traitor)” who could never be Chief Minister of the state, said both leaders are important to the Congress.
“Both leaders are assets to the Congress,” Rahul Gandhi said, speaking to reporters during a pit stop in his Bharat Jodo Yatra in Madhya Pradesh’s Indore.
The former Congress president also dismissed the suggestion that Mr Gehlot’s no-filter takedown of Sachin Pilot in the explosive interview, and the sharp divide within the party in Rajasthan would ruin his yatra in the state.
“Every time I enter a new state, I am told by you (media) that there will be a problem. Now you are saying there will be a problem in Rajasthan…,” Mr Gandhi said. “The fact is, this yatra has gone beyond the Congress. It is now the inner voice of India. No one can say where it will reach and where it won’t.”
The Congress yesterday said it would not hesitate to take “tough decisions” in Rajasthan and that Mr Gehlot shouldn’t have used “certain words”.
In an exclusive interview to NDTV on Thursday, Mr Gehlot said: “A gaddar (traitor) cannot be Chief Minister. The High Command cannot make Sachin Pilot the Chief Minister… a man who doesn’t have 10 MLAs. Who revolted. He betrayed the party, (he) is a traitor,” Mr Gehlot said.
Mr Pilot, in response, said it was “unbecoming” of a senior leader to use such words, that too at a time the Congress needed to project a united front.
The Congress is stunned by Mr Gehlot’s poorly timed outburst.
“There are some differences. (Rajasthan) chief minister has used certain words which were unexpected. I was surprised. Ashok Gehlot shouldn’t have used certain words in the interview,” Jairam Ramesh told reporters.
“We will find a solution to the Rajasthan issue which will strengthen our organisation. For this, if we have to take tough decisions, we will take them. If a compromise has to be made, then it will be done,” he said, according to news agency PTI.
Mr Ramesh said the party “needs both leaders” and the Congress leadership was considering a proper solution to the feud in Rajasthan, which will vote for a new government next year. “But I cannot fix any time frame for this solution. Only the Congress leadership will decide the time frame for it,” he was quoted as saying by PTI.
Rahul Gandhi’s yatra is set to enter Rajasthan on December 4 and in the Congress is desperate to ensure a drama-free stint as infighting peaks between its two biggest leaders in the state where elections will be held next year.