Despite fireworks, it seems Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge and former party boss Rahul Gandhi have dropped some indications ruling out any further problem for Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot. Sources said that both leaders have also indicated that any attempt to destabilise the Gehlot government in Rajasthan will be dealt firmly.
Addressing a press conference during the on-going “Bharat Jodo Yatra” in Madhya Pradesh, Rahul Gandhi in reply to a query on the fall of the Congress government in MP said that those who left the Congress after receiving kickbacks cannot be trusted. This way, the Gandhi scion suggested that the BJP formed the government allegedly through horse-trading in MP.
Analysts see Rahul’s remarks as a signal for Rajasthan as well. To a question related to the controversy over Gehlot’s recent interview, Rahul said, “I do not want to go into who said what. Both leaders (Gehlot and Sachin Pilot) are assets for the party.” “This will not affect the yatra in Rajasthan,” he said.
Political observers find this as Rahul’s way of saying that everything is under control in Rajasthan. The indication, as many suggested, was that Congress is unlikely to plan any action for Rajasthan. He is confident that the yatra in Rajasthan would be as successful as it is in MP.
Earlier, Kharge had also admired Gehlot during one of his election rallies in Gujarat. The Congress chief had said that Gehlot is loved by all and he is working hard in the poll-bound state. The statements of both leaders have come at a time when an interview of Gehlot has triggered a row. The Rajasthan CM is in Gujarat for a week looking after the party’s election strategy there. Kharge is also touring the poll-bound state of Gujarat.
Only last week, CM Gehlot had, in an interview to a news channel, called Pilot a ‘gaddar’ (a traitor), saying that these people took money from the BJP to try to topple the government in Rajasthan. He claimed to have proof that money was distributed to some MLAs as part of a plan to dislodge his government.
Sachin Pilot along with 19 Congress MLAs had attempted to topple the party’s government in Jaipur in 2020. After this, Rahul sacked him from PCC chief post. He was also removed from the post of Deputy Chief Minister of Rajasthan.
What was reported and alleged then was that the MLAs were given Rs 10 crore each in advance under the ‘Operation Lotus’. A total amount of Rs 190 crore was distributed to the rebel legislators. The Operation Lotus was successful in MP where 25 Congress MLAs were bribed, leading to fall of the government.
However, the effort was not successful as only 19 MLAs were seen sided with Pilot. Rahul has already said that 25 Congress MLAs were bribed by BJP in MP. On whether these MLAs would be taken back in the party any time in future, Rahul said the leaders who left the party after receiving money cannot be relied on. Rahul has not yet forgiven those who were behind the government toppling game in Rajasthan.
Gehlot is also expressing similar views about the rebels. He said on record that these legislators took money from BJP. “They were given the first instalment of Rs 10-12 crore,” he alleged. Gehlot unequivocally said in the interview that these MLAs would be called “gaddar”. They have not returned the money yet despite being told to do so by the party. According to sources, CM Gehlot has handed over all the evidence to Rahul and Kharge. There are indications that the party may take action against those who tried to destabilise the Gehlot government. Rahul is likely to give a strong message to these leaders during his yatra in Rajasthan.