Congress Rajasthan incharge Ajay Maken talked to The Daily Guardian about the leadership crisis within the party and the road ahead for the Ashok Gehlot government, even as he called Sachin Pilot charismatic and Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot full of experience. Excerpts:
Q: How do you see demands coming from different sections of the party demanding Rahul Gandhi to lead the party again?
A: Rahul Gandhi has been hitting hard at the Central government’s failures, especially on economy, national security and the pandemic situation and the way the Modi government dealt with these issues. You cannot fight BJP only in elections. He fights BJP in Parliament and outside the Parliament. It’s time he should take over as president and lead the party.
Q: Who will you give credit for saving the Rajasthan government and ensuring that it comes out united out of this crisis?
A: I will give credit to all those 102 MLAs who stood firmly with the party, also Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and many other senior leaders who coordinated from Jaipur and Delhi. It was a team effort. We emerged stronger than in the past and the best part was that there was a break in the BJP and they were searching for their four MLAs in the House.
Q: Your comments on the role of governor and judiciary?
A: It has never happened in the past the way the judiciary interfered in the legislative business, how speakers’ notices were stayed by the court. The way the governor refused an elected CM’s call for an Assembly session thrice was a clear indicator. All this has put BJP in the bad light.
Q: Now you are in-charge of the state. How will you decide Sachin Pilot’s future role?
A: Pilot is a charismatic and a crowd-puller leader and there is no doubt on his credentials. He has been an asset to the party and we will utilise it at the best. The party has invested a lot in Pilot. I hope the high command will decide on his future course.
Q: You stayed in Rajasthan for a long time along with the MLAs and the CM; was there ever a feeling that you might lose? How do you see Gehlot’s leadership?
A: Gehlot is an influential and a seasoned politician. He has performed well in the state with his experience. Even the Modi government praised him for the way he dealt with the Covid-19 pandemic, with the Bhilwada model. We were annoyed with the way the Centre was using Central agencies to create pressure on our MLAs.