Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot today again criticized the BJP with a show of support for rival Vasundhara Raje Scindia. He told the media that she should not be a victim of her party for refusing to topple his government at a vulnerable time. Mr Gehlot had also earlier expressed his gratitude to Ms Raje on the issue, raising a biting comment from the younger leader.
Asked about Ms Raje’s alleged sidelining within the BJP, Mr Gehlot today told reporters that it was an internal matter of the BP and he did not wish to comment on it.
“But I would like to say that she should not be punished because of me… This would be an injustice to her,” he said, implying that the former BJP chief minister is above her party’s tactics to oust opposition governments.
In May this year, Mr Gehlot claimed that Vasundhara Raje and two other BJP leaders had helped save his government during the 2020 uprising by Sachin Pilot and his loyalists.
The claim had drawn a sharp remark from Ms Raje, who said the veteran leader’s comment was “not a sign of goodwill but malice”.
“Ashok Gehlot has never won a majority since 2003. That’s why he considers me his biggest enemy and a thorn in his side. Therefore, there is no goodwill for me in his praise, there is only malice,” Ms. Raje had said.
Last month, a cropped photo of the two leaders sitting together was widely circulated online, reviving their party colleagues’ claims that they were soft on each other. Ms. Raje’s office eventually released the full photo, which shows two other leaders
Mr Gehlot’s comment, which revives the vexed issue, is being seen by many as a slight to the BJP, highlighting what the Congress calls its unethical practices.
It is also a ploy to downplay the factionalism in his party by highlighting the divisions within the opposition party, which, according to the state’s revolving door tradition, is believed to be favorably positioned by many.