Jaipur/ New Delhi:
Good English and handsome looks “isn’t everything,” Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot sneered as it appeared today that a massive threat to his government from Sachin Pilot had been neutralized for now. Ashok Gehlot took multiple swipes at his former deputy and challenger-in-chief and also accused him of a role in alleged attempts to buy Congress MLAs and topple his government.
“Speaking good English, giving good quotes and being handsome isn’t everything. What is in your heart for the country, your ideology, policies and commitment, everything is important,” Mr Gehlot, 69, delivering the verbal equivalent of “game, set and match”.
“A knife made of gold is not for use on a plate for eating. Do you get my drift?”
The Chief Minister accused Sachin Pilot of following the BJP’s playbook in Madhya Pradesh, where the Congress lost power after one of its key leaders, Jyotiraditya Scindia, switched to the BJP with several MLAs.
“We have the proof that horse-trading was being committed. Money was offered. And who gave the clarification that nothing was happening? Those who were themselves part of the conspiracy were giving clarifications,” he said in a dig at Mr Pilot.
“Our deputy chief minister and PCC (state Congress) president himself was doing the deal and was giving statements that no horse-trading was taking place. What clarifications are you giving when you yourself were involved in it?”
The Chief Minister aimed barbs at what he called “the new generation” who hadn’t gone through the struggle he had in his long years in politics.
“I have been in politics for 40 years, we love the new generation, the future will be theirs. This new generation, they have become central ministers, state presidents if they had gone through what we did in our time, they would have understood,” said the Chief Minister.
Over the past few months, the Chief Minister had repeatedly alleged attempts to buy Congress MLAs for a BJP coup. The kicker in the bitter Gehlot-Pilot rivalry came on Friday when Sachin Pilot was asked to answer questions in an investigation ordered by Mr Gehlot into alleged attempts made during the Rajya Sabha elections to three seats. Mr Gehlot had then moved Congress MLAs to a hotel. The party won two of the three seats.
“We had to keep people at a hotel for 10 days, if we had not done that, the same thing that is happening in Manesar now would have happened back then,” Mr Gehlot said.
Earlier today, Mr Pilot re-emphasized that he was not going to the BJP. “I am not joining the BJP. I would like to make it clear that I have no plans to join the BJP. The BJP link is an attempt to malign me in the eyes of the Gandhis,” Mr Pilot told NDTV.
The rebel squad camping with him in Delhi was seen to have been weakened significantly after differences reportedly emerged over whether to break ranks with the Congress. Sources said a few of the Congress legislators were reluctant to make the switch to the BJP.