Former Rajasthan deputy chief minister and Congress leader Sachin Pilot sat on a fast at the Shaheed Smarak in Jaipur on Tuesday demanding action from his own government over cases of alleged corruption during the BJP term, despite his party’s warning.
Pilot, who sat on the fast from 11 am to 4 pm, said his movement against graft will continue.
The Congress leader was warned last night that any such action on his part would amount to “anti-party activity”.
Dressed in white, Pilot reached the “Shaheed Smarak Sthal” and sat for the protest with Mahatma Gandhi as his backdrop. He was joined by his supporters who sat surrounding him. While speaking to the media, he said, “I am protesting corruption charges against Vasundhara Raje. It is a fight against corruption…We have promised people that we will fight against corruption in the state. We have not acted against the corruption cases which happened in the Raje-led government. I am sitting on Dharna so that we act against it now.”
When asked about the “anti-party activity” statement, Pilot said, “I came to know about this in the morning. We will talk to the party.” His reaction came after All India Congress Committee (AICC) in-charge of the state Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa took a strong objection to the proposed dharna and said any such protest against its government clearly amounts to anti-party activity and goes against the party’s interest.
Pilot’s move is seen largely aimed at his party rival Ashok Gehlot. He has alleged that the Gehlot-led government failed to probe cases of alleged corruption during the BJP rule in Rajasthan and said his day-long fast is to press for action.
The move by Pilot to open a new front against Gehlot amid the factional fighting is seen as an attempt to pressure the party’s high command to resolve the leadership issue ahead of the year-end polls.
On Monday, Randhawa issued a stern warning to Pilot and said any protest against its government clearly amounts to anti-party activity and goes against the party’s interest.
Calling Pilot an “indisputable asset to the Congress”, Randhawa said he talked to the disgruntled leader during the day and told him to raise issues at party platforms instead of going public against its own government.
“Pilot’s day-long fast is against the party’s interests. If there is any issue with his own government, it can be discussed in party forums instead of in the media and public,” Randhawa said in a statement, adding that he has been an AICC in-charge for the last five months and Pilot never discussed the issue with him.
“I personally called Sachin Pilot and asked him to raise such matters at party platforms instead of going public like this,” he told PTI when asked if he had discussed Pilot’s proposed fast with him.
He said the two letters Pilot was referring to for action against graft by the previous Vasundhara Raje government have never been raised before him despite several talks and discussions.
‘Like Rahul, Pilot’s Fight Against Corruption’
Sources close to Pilot said on Sunday that both he and Randhawa spoke over the phone but the AICC in-charge of the state had not asked the former deputy chief minister to call off the fast.
They said his fight is against graft under the Vasundhara Raje regime and not targeted at anyone else.
The sources close to the former Rajasthan deputy chief minister also said that while Rahul Gandhi was fighting on the Adani issue of alleged corruption, likewise Pilot was taking up the issue to hold the previous Raje dispensation accountable.
Sources said Pilot claimed that he would sit on a “maun vrat” and not speak against the government.
‘Gehlot Govt Looking Into Graft Charges’
Meanwhile, Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera sought to downplay Pilot’s remarks and said it is “wrong” to say that the Ashok Gehlot dispensation is not acting against graft.
He said a probe against senior BJP leader from Rajasthan Gajendra Singh Shekhawat is on in the Sanjeevani scam and the Union minister has also filed a defamation case against Chief Minister Gehlot.
“A probe is underway on how the BJP conspired to topple our elected government in Rajasthan and tried to buy our MLAs,” he told reporters here when asked about Pilot’s remarks that the Congress government in Rajasthan was not against graft cases during the previous BJP government in the state.
“It is wrong to say that a probe is not on, as an investigation is being carried out and if anyone has a complaint, he should bring it to the notice of the AICC in-charge,” Khera said.
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