Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot on Saturday called Union minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat "useless", using the Hindi word "nikamma", a term he had used for his former deputy Sachin Pilot two years ago.
Gehlot had used the word for Pilot in 2020 during a political crisis in the state triggered by the his former deputy's rebellion against him.
Addressing a party meeting on the Eastern Rajasthan Canal Project (ERCP) here, Gehlot said, "We will ask the PM someday why he keeps such a "nikamma" (useless) minister who remains absent-minded in your meetings," Gehlot said.
Gehlot made the remark days after the Union Jal Shakti minister while apparently referring to the political crisis had said at a meeting in Chomu town that had the government changed, water would have reached state areas through the canal project.
Gehlot said Shekhawat was present in public meetings of the Lok Sabha elections when PM Modi talked about the ERCP. Gehlot said state minister Mahesh Joshi during an inter-state conference had innocently said PM Modi had made a promise to declare the ERCP a project of national importance but the Union minister gave him a lecture, saying he would resign if the PM had said even a word about the project.
"He even issued a ‘firman’ for the CM and the PHED minister to resign. A central minister who himself was present in the PM meeting is talking about such things. It means that you remain absent-minded. It is not good to remain absent-minded in PM's meetings," Gehlot said.
Referring to a letter written by the secretary, Jal Shakti Ministry, to the state chief secretary, asking not to carry out work on the ERCP without having an inter-state consensus, Gehlot said the Centre does not have the right to stop the work.
"It is our water and funds. The Centre is not giving us funds then why the Centre is not letting people and farmers have their rights," Gehlot said. He said the project was initiated by the previous BJP government and the Congress government did not stall the work. The prime minister should fulfil the promise of declaring it the project of national importance, he said.
The chief minister said the state government is committed to complete the project and they have released a budget of Rs 9600 crore from the state fund for it.