Gehlot Side-steps Questions On Pilot's Allegations: 'My Mind Doesn't Get Distracted, Focus Is On Welfare Schemes'

Sachin Pilot has alleged that Ashok Gehlot was not acting on the corruption charges, levelled by the Congress party, on the former BJP chief minister Vasundhara Raje and her government.

Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot

A day after the one-day fast held by Rajasthan's former deputy chief minister Sachin Pilot, the state’s chief minister Ashok Gehlot on Wednesday side-stepped questions pertaining to Pilot or his allegations at a press conference. Pilot has alleged that Gehlot was not acting on the corruption charges, levelled by the Congress party, on the former BJP chief minister Vasundhara Raje and her government.

Interestingly, Gehlot, who addressed the media at his residence on Wednesday afternoon, successfully ignored repeated questions referring to Sachin Pilot. "Mera lakshya hai mehangai rahat, left-right mera dhyan nahi jata (My focus is to ease the inflation. My mind doesn't get distracted, left or right", said Gehlot, while repeatedly focussing on welfare schemes launched by the Congress govt.

In another question on inaction in cases of corruption during the previous BJP dispensation, as alleged by Pilot, Gehlot rubbished the allegation and said, "Rajasthan Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) has raided several corrupt officers, something which has not happened in any other place in the country".

Gehlot focuses on Mission 2030

In a one-hour interaction with the media, Gehlot chose to focus on undertaking a massive mass outreach programme for the registration of Rajasthan's public in the ten welfare schemes. The chief minister said that his recent budget – called the 'Rahat Bachat Badhat' – was the first step in his plan to make Rajasthan India's number one state on all parameters by 2030. "Mehangai Rahat camps are the second step in my Mission 2030. And many more will come," said Gehlot at a presser, assuring that 2,700 camps across the state will give economic relief to the people, helping them fight inflation.

According to the sources close to Gehlot, the chief minister has chosen not to reply to any of the allegations but instead focus on the schemes, which may help Congress return to power. "The Mission 2030 simply signifies that Gehlot is in no mood to leave the chair to anyone and neither he wants to get distracted by any allegations. He is aware that this is a crucial time and he has decided not to toe the party line. He instead is elated and feels reassured that Congress high command is full of praises for his welfare schemes".

Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi also took a dig at Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot at the flagging-off ceremony of Rajasthan’s first Vande Bharat Express. Hinting at his ongoing friction with his former deputy Sachin Pilot, Modi said, "Despite going through political crises, it is heartening to see that Ashok Gehlot took out time and came for the developmental works of Railways. I thank him for that."

Pilot defies Congress warnings, holds protest

A night before the Pilot's protest in Jaipur, the statement issued by Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, AICC general secretary in charge of Rajasthan said that the protest would be treated as an “anti-party activity”. But despite that, Pilot continued with his protest -  seen as a hint at the fissures in the Congress’s state unit ahead of the Assembly polls, slated in December 2023.

On Tuesday, Sachin Pilot held a day-long fast to press for action on matters of the excise mafia, illegal mining, land encroachment and the Lalit Modi affidavit case against the previous Raje government in Rajasthan. "Congress government had evidence against the former BJP government but had not acted on it,” said Pilot.

Surprisingly, the backdrop at the Pilot's protest at Shaheed Smark saw the absence of the photographs of Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and the Congress symbol. However, a photograph of Mahatma Gandhi and of social reformer Jyotirao Phule were kept and garlanded by Pilot.

Interestingly, during the five-hour fast, Pilot was joined by none of his loyal MLAs. However, several party leaders such as Gopal Singh Shekhawat, the chairman of Rajasthan Senior Citizen Welfare Board with state minister status; Mahesh Sharma, chairman of Rajasthan State Vipra Welfare Board with state minister status; founder of Sarv Brahmin Mahasabha Pandit Suresh Mishra; former Jaipur Mayor Jyoti Khandelwal; Pilot loyalists Anirudh Singh, son of cabinet minister Vishvendra Singh; Vibha Mathur, granddaughter of former Rajasthan CM Shiv Charan Mathur and Congress leader Anil Chopra were present at the event. Besides these, thousands of Pilot supporters thronged at the protest and raised slogans such as "We love you Sachin Pilot" and "Agla CM Kaisa Ho, Sachin Pilot Jaisa ho".

Rakesh Gurjar, 26, from Dausa, "If Congress goes to polls without Pilot, it will lose all the seats in the eastern Rajasthan, dominated by the Gurjar community. Pilot is the face of youth, those who believe that Congress should repeat".

"When I was party President, Congress had raised several allegations over BJP on corruption. All of them are in the public domain. Now Congress is in power, it becomes the government's responsibility to investigate each one of them," said Pilot, who claimed that he had written several letters to Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot but hadn't received any reply.

Alleging that his Congress colleague and Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot was sitting on corruption cases against the previous Vasundhara Raje-led BJP government, the former deputy CM has said, “Before the next polls, wasn’t it necessary to assure the people of Rajasthan that the Congress government was acting on promises made before the 2018 assembly elections? It was the public which believed in us and we rose from 21 seats to 100 seats,” added Pilot.

As per the sources in Congress, Pilot, who reached Delhi on Wednesday morning, is supposed to meet Congress's top brass leadership.