'Totally unified, focused on making Bharat Jodo Yatra a success': Sachin Pilot
Sachin Pilot's comments come only days after Gehlot said Pilot is a 'gaddar' (traitor) and cannot be replaced. The remarks attracted a harsh rebuke from Pilot, who claimed Gehlot's use of such language was unworthy of his status and that such 'mud-slinging' would not help at a time when the attention should be on the Bharat Jodo Yatra.
Senior Congress leader Sachin Pilot dismissed apprehensions that infighting will disrupt the Bharat Jodo Yatra in Rajasthan on Sunday, saying the party's state unit is 'totally unified' and focused on making the yatra more successful than it has been in previous states.
The Congress leader also attacked the Bharatiya Janata Party for criticising the Congress for his disagreements with Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, saying it 'sounds rich' coming from the BJP, which has at least a dozen candidates for the position of the chief minister.
Bharat Jodo Yatra is set to arrive in Rajasthan today; Pilot, while talking to PTI, said that "There is no unity in the BJP. They have not even been able to establish themselves as a legitimate opposition in Rajasthan in the last four years."
When asked about concerns about the yatra's fate in Rajasthan following the events leading up to it, including Gehlot slamming him in an interview with the news channel, Pilot dismissed the concerns as 'stories put out in the media.'
"There is complete unanimity in the party regarding Rahul (Gandhi) Ji's Bharat Jodo yatra, and we are working together to make it a success," Pilot continued.
"So there is no need to consider people A, B, or C. We have worked hard as a party to build a government, and Rahul Ji's yatra would only add to our efforts as we prepare for the next election in 12 months," according to Pilot.
Additionally, Pilot said that while Congress general secretary in charge of the organisation, K C Venugopal, was in Jaipur last week, there was a long debate on various aspects of the yatra and how to mobilise all workers and that lakhs of people were ready to join it. So, there is absolutely no need for concern, he added.
"There may be a few planted tales here and there and those attempting to create fabricated conflicts, but the party is completely united. We will make the yatra even more successful than it has been in previous states," said Pilot.
When asked if Gehlot's words on him had cast a shadow over the yatra, replying to the question, Pilot said, "I think the more important thing right now is for the yatra to enter Rajasthan and be completed successfully (in the state)."
"We are all singularly focused on ensuring that the yatra remains a great success and remains in the memory of the people for years and generations to come," the former Union minister added.
That is the key purpose, and everyone is working hard to ensure the yatra's success, according to Pilot.
His comments come only days after Gehlot said Pilot is a 'gaddar' (traitor) and cannot be replaced. The remarks attracted a harsh rebuke from Pilot, who claimed Gehlot's use of such language was unworthy of his status and that such 'mud-slinging' would not help at a time when the attention should be on the yatra.
Whether the yatra will cement unity in the Congress's Rajasthan unit, Pilot said, "When I say this, I mean it for myself and everyone else; winning the upcoming elections is our top priority right now. Rajasthan's government changes every five years. That trend must be broken, and we will all do whatever it takes to do so collectively."
He stressed that the then-Ashok Gehlot-led government was reduced to 21 seats out of 200 in 2013 and that the party worked hard from that point on to win a full majority government.
"In the future, if we work together and the government and the organisation deliver on our promises as we have, we can win elections," he added.
He added that the prime purpose is to win Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, and Madhya Pradesh, as those elections would be held next year, close to the Lok Sabha elections.
Pilot said the BJP claimed the yatra would only gain traction in the southern part of India, but it had only grown in scale and impact as it moved from Telangana to Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, and now Rajasthan.
"This concerned the BJP. In terms of the Congress, we are gaining traction; the message of the yatra has percolated down to the masses," he said.
The Congress hopes to gain traction from the yatra, which runs through Rajasthan for 500 kilometres, as there is an election in Rajasthan in 12 months.
"We have everything we need. Compared to other states where we are in opposition, this is the first state where we are in government (where the yatra is passing through). We've planned a historic welcome," added Pilot.
Pilot responded to the BJP's frequently repeated remark that the party needs 'Congress jodo' instead of 'Bharat Jodo,' saying that all the BJP does is point fingers and look at the problems of others, but it must examine within and reflect on what it has delivered as an opposition in the state.
He said the BJP initiated a district-wise 'Jan Aakrosh Rath yatra' just two days ago, but it was a flop.
"The Bharat Jodo Yatra will undoubtedly be historic in Rajasthan," he added.
The escalation of the Gehlot-Pilot schism just before Rahul Gandhi's 'Bharat Jodo Yatra' entry into the desert state had put the party in a bind, but Venugopal's visit to the state last week calmed tempers and, in a show of unity, both Pilot and Gehlot posed for the cameras alongside the AICC general secretary.
When asked about the Pilot-Gehlot feud, Rahul Gandhi called both men 'valuable' to the party and said it would not affect the Bharat Jodo Yatra.
(With inputs from PTI)