Ever since the defeat of the Congress in the Lok Sabha polls early this year -- barely six months after the party's impressive victory in the Assembly polls -- the differences within the state party's top leadership have refused to die down. On the one hand is Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot, who is also the state party chief, and on the other is Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot. "Their differences spell danger for the Congress government in Rajasthan," said leader of opposition and BJP MLA Gulabchand Kataria.
The Pilot camp is reportedly pressing hard to appoint him as the CM while the Gehlot camp is making all-out efforts to keep the status quo. The central leadership has so far ensured to keep the government afloat.
The "two power centres" surfaced post-assembly elections, which left the bureaucracy confused. So, many government promises made before the polls, including the one on farm loan waiver, couldn't be fulfilled, resulting in the common man losing faith and the party faring badly in the Lok Sabha elections, losing all 25 seats in the state.
The differences between the two leaders came out yet again during the July 10 post-budget press conference where Gehlot made it clear that he was not willing to let go of the CM's chair. "Congress President Rahul Gandhi appointed me as Chief Minister as the people of the state wanted only him in the position and no one else."
Pilot responded by saying that the people of the state trusted Rahul Gandhi and voted for him, "and no one else".
Earlier, Gehlot had told a TV interviewer that Pilot, as the state party chief, should have taken responsibility for the party's defeat in Jodhpur from where his son Vaibhav Gehlot had contested the Lok Sabha election.
State Bharatiya Janata Party leaders have warned that Karnataka and Goa episodes could be repeated in Rajasthan if Congress leaders continue with their infighting.
Leader of Opposition and BJP MLA Gulabchand Kataria told IANS: "The CM's remarks asserting his position during the post-budget presser were very unfortunate. No one had questioned his position in the party. This showed his fear that the Congress leadership might remove him from the state and take him to Delhi."
He said the Congress hadn't projected anyone as the chief ministerial candidate before the Assembly elections. So, how can Gehlot say that people wanted him as the CM and therefore voted for Congress?" he asked.
"We have no role in Congress infighting. They are fighting for their own selfish goals and if this continues, definitely there will be a repeat of Karnataka and Goa here," he added.