Jaipur: Making clear that he is not backing down from the stand he has taken against his own government in Rajasthan, Congress leader Sachin Pilot on Monday renewed his demand for a probe into alleged corruption during the term of the previous BJP government.
The former deputy chief minister recently went on a daylong fast over this, defying the party’s central leadership even after it termed his proposed move “anti-party activity”.
Pilot’s target had appeared to be Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot — he criticised the Gehlot government for “inaction” in “corruption cases” at a time when the party is gearing up for the year-end assembly polls.
Addressing a gathering in Jhunjhunu on Monday, the dissident leader stuck to his position. He had gone to unveil the statue of Pulwama attack martyr Sheo Ram Gurjar.
“I am asking for action even today. It’s been a week now but no action has been taken,” Pilot said, repeating his demand for “an inquiry against those involved in corruption”.
“Action should be taken if the evidence is found. It is the responsibility of all of us to give Rajasthan clean politics,” he said.
He said he will not compromise on the issue of corruption.
Due to his scheduled public events in Jhunjhunu and Jaipur, Pilot also skipped a meeting with All India Congress Committee in-charge for Rajasthan Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and state Congress president Govind Singh Dotasra.
The three are holding separate meetings with all Rajasthan Congress MLAs in the run-up to the polls. Monday was the turn of the MLAs from the Ajmer division, under which Pilot’s Tonk constituency falls.
In Jhunjhunu’s Khetri town, Pilot told reporters that an investigation should be carried out as soon as possible because the entire Congress, including Rahul Gandhi, has been fighting “corruption” by the BJP government at the Centre.
“In Rajasthan, elections are seven months away. You want an effective and transparent inquiry into all those scandals that broke out when the BJP was in power, and I think we should do it as soon as possible,” Pilot said.
“Be it Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh or UP, we have always exposed the BJP’s corruption,” he said.
Replying to a question over the inflation relief programme announced by Gehlot, Pilot said he welcomed such relief schemes.
“But in politics credibility and what you say are also important. When we go to the polls seven months later, we will be told you made the allegations — either you were lying or you didn’t have enough courage (to follow through),” he said.
Pilot also called for amending rules to help war widows get jobs easily.
The youth of Jhunjhunu work hard and join the armed forces to guard the borders, he said.
“For them and their families, if we have to amend rules and regulations, give some relaxation and even if we have to amend the law, we should not hesitate,” he added.
Referring to a recent protest by widows of three soldiers killed in the 2019 Pulwama attack, Pilot said, “Accepting their demands was a different story but we should have listened to them. It is our responsibility to hear their out and this is what I have done,” he said.
The Pulwama widows were demanding a change in rules so that their relatives and not just children can get government jobs on compassionate grounds. Their other demands included the construction of roads and the installation of statues of the slain soldiers in their villages.
Without taking any names, Pilot targeted Gehlot for using foul language against him.
After Pilot revolted against Gehlot in 2020, the chief minister had called him “nakara” and “nikamma”.
“I have never crossed limits, my values are such. I have always been decent, polite and have honoured elders,” he said.
“I have protested on roads, gone to jail and observed a fast but never used wrong words,” he said.
“I have never used abusive words or foul language and I will never do it,” he added.
An MLA told reporters that he mentioned Pilot when he met party leaders during their interactions with legislators.
“I told them about the influence of Sachin Pilot in Ajmer. He has been an MP from Ajmer and there is a big number of his supporters there,” Masuda MLA Rakesh Pareek said.
Pilot’s fast last week put the party’s central leadership in a quandary on whether to take action against him or not.
“If there is any issue with his own government, it can be discussed at party forums instead of the media and in public,” Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa had said in a statement the night before Pilot’s dharna.
“This is clearly anti-party activity,” he had then said.