Underlining that his rebellion was never “anti-party” but merely a means to articulate the happenings in the state, former Rajasthan deputy chief ministerSachin Pilotsaid he has no animosity or ill will against state chief minister Ashok Gehlot. On being asked how he would respond to the “nikamma” jibe by the CM, the young leader merely laughed it off at first. Then added that he was “deeply hurt by some of the language used against me”. Asked how would he greet the CM given the bitterness when he meets him on 14th, Pilot said he has nothing but kind words to offer.
In a wide-ranging interview with HT’sSunetra Choudhury, a day after a peace deal was struck with the party high command that promised to look into all his grievances, Sachin Pilot revealed the role played by party general secretary Priyanka Gandhi.
Here are the edited excerpts from the interview:
Q. What have the last 30 days been like for you?
About 3-4 weeks ago, I was served a notice under sedition charges. As deputy chief minister and party president, I felt it was unwarranted. A lot of us were deeply hurt by that and a few of our colleagues wanted to come to Delhi to tell the party organisationnot just about the one issue, but also about many things we had been contemplating for long. Once that started, a lot of other developments happened, but I think ultimately the objective of the exercise we did was to bring the grassroots feedback to the leadership. We were well within our rights to raise the issue within the party forum and from day one we said that we were raising the issue as Congressmen, as legislators. I don’t think anything we did was at all anti-party.
Q. You say it wasn’t anti-party but a lot of Congress leaders who were supporting you later said that you could have done it without going incommunicado with 18MLAs.
The minute we came to Delhi to air our views, the next day itself a lot of acrimonious action started in Jaipur, a lot of FIRs, police cases. A lot of our colleagues felt they would be at the end of a lot of coercive action by the police and the administration. I want to place on record that we were here in Delhi, wanting to place our views and wanting to be heard. I think the reactions that came out from Jaipur and the actions that followed, it didn’t give any confidence to the legislators that we are moving in the right direction. As far as the opposition party is concerned, trying to take advantage of what is going on, they have done some politics. We had made ourselves very clear from the beginning that there was no question of leaving the party or joining any other party. I know there was a lot of speculation and stories. I came here as deputy CM and the party thought it right to remove me from this position, which is fine. Because the CM can choose his cabinet. But I wasn’t even critical of the government, but the working style, the functioning, the governance style of the chief minister – which needed altering as we have elections three years later.
Q. Let’s go back to the sequence of events on July 10. You came to alert the party and the events overtook what happened. Couldn’t you have spoken to the Gandhis then like you did yesterday?
There are people in different hierarchies responsible for the communication within the party leadership in Delhi and Rajasthan. Those channels didn’t work out very well as we all know in hindsight. Because the actions were being taken very quickly in Jaipur, between the notices and court cases and suspensions, it just came to pass that we had to do what we had to do. Because if we didn’t fight and stand up for what we believed in, we wouldn’t be here today. I think at the right time everyone decided to talk and I’m very happy that the Congress president has now assured all of us that a time-bound roadmap is being evolved to redress all the issues that were raised.
Q. So when you were incommunicado, what was the objective in your head?
First of all, all of us were here in Delhi and were never incommunicado, we were talking to people, we were moving around. I met a lot of colleagues and it was not as if anyone was bound anywhere. But yes, some of my colleagues felt apprehensive of the police. That’s why all this lockjam came about. The kinds of things that were said while we were here making our grievances heard, it wasn’t charitable, to say the least.
Q. When your former boss was saying that you are nothing but a good looking face, that your qualifications were just that you spoke English and otherwise you were “nikamma”, “nakkara”, at that time did you think of an option? That maybe you need to look at another party?
No, no, not for a moment. But I have to admit when I heard some of the language used against me, it did deeply hurt me. I felt I was wronged and aggrieved and then to hear the things that I heard. To say the least, it wasn’t charitable. And was unparliamentary, of course. But two wrongs don’t make a right, I’m not going to retort in the same tone and tenor. It’s unbecoming of people in public life to take the level of discourse to a point where people think it’s unbecoming. I chose not to respond. There’s no place for name-calling, it has to be issue based. Even the harshest critic wouldn’t have used some of the language that was used. I swallowed that bitter pill and it was the best thing to do at the time.
Q. But they say that they have evidence that the BJP was in touch with you. What would you say a