Congress leader Sachin
Pilot hit a conciliatory note on Saturday, saying he was ready to “forgive and forget” his tussle with Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot, and move forward together to fight the upcoming assembly polls.
Talking to PTI, the firebrand leader said he recently met party president Mallikarjun Kharge who told him that “time gone by won’t come back and that he [Pilot] should move on”.
“His words were as much advice as directive,” Pilot said, adding that they have to work unitedly and move forward in a way that is “acceptable to the people and to the party workers”.
Asked about Gehlot calling him names in the past and his criticism of the Gehlot government over inaction on issues such as corruption in the previous Vasundhara Raje government, Pilot told PTI that he had always refrained from using any word or language that is unpleasant.
“In public life, it is good to maintain dignity of discourse,” said the Congress leader, who has had several run-ins with the party’s state and central leadership over the past few years.
Pilot bats for collective leadership
Pilot said that when he was the
president he had endeavoured to take everyone along. “Gehlot is older than me, he has more experience. He has heavy responsibilities on his shoulders. I think that today Gehlot is also trying to take everyone along.”
“If there is a little back and forth, then it is not a big issue because the party and the public are more important than any individual. I also understand this and he [Gehlot] also understands it,” the former Rajasthan deputy chief minister told PTI.
Acknowledging that collective leadership was the only way forward in the run up to the Rajasthan polls, Pilot said no one person can “claim to do magic of winning polls … it’s always a team effort”.
“More than leaders, it is the workers, we have to enthuse the workers, they need to feel committed and involved, and as Rahul Gandhi has said that the party workers must feel involved in decision-making,” he said.
Pilot also batted for winnability being the sole criterion for selecting candidates for the Rajasthan polls and called for giving younger leaders a chance.
On what role he would play going forward, Pilot said he has always discharged his duties with utmost dedication in the past and any decision on it taken by the party high command would be acceptable to him.
“We are on our way to making history. It is quite possible that we will get more seats than we got last time,” he added.
Discipline must be followed: Congress
The Congress recently held a strategy meeting on election preparedness in Rajasthan, and asserted that it will fight the polls unitedly.
Congress general secretary in charge organisation K C Venugopal has said the candidates will be decided by September first week and the selection will be made on the basis of winning ability.
Speaking on the differences between Gehlot and Pilot, Venugopal had said: “We never announce chief ministerial candidate, but we will fight Rajasthan election unitedly. Discipline is to be followed and no one is to speak outside party forum. Strict action will be taken in case of defiance.”
Gehlot and Pilot have been engaged in a power tussle since the Congress formed government in the state in 2018. In 2020, Pilot led a revolt against the Gehlot government after which he was removed from the posts of the party’s state unit president and deputy chief minister.
Last year, an attempt by the high command to effect a leadership change in Rajasthan had failed after Gehlot loyalists dug their heels in and did not allow a legislature party meeting to take place.
Pilot had last month defied a warning from the party and went ahead with a day-long fast targeting Gehlot over his “inaction” on alleged corruption during the previous Raje government.
(With inputs from agencies)