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'Will work under Rahul Gandhi': Gehlot on Congress leadership crisis ahead of 'Bharat Jodo Yatra'


KANYAKUMARI: Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot on Wednesday attacked the ruling BJP, claiming hate has spread in the country in the name of caste and religion and it can lead to a civil war if not checked.

Addressing a press conference here ahead of the launch of the party's 3,570-km 'Bharat Jodo Yatra' from Kanyakumari to Kashmir, Gehlot also said the party's rank and file is in favour of Rahul Gandhi becoming Congress president again.

"We will all work together under Rahul Gandhi's leadership. There are big challenges before the country and if Rahul Gandhi becomes the party chief, it will be easier to deal with them," he said.

He said there was a need to give the slogan of 'Bharat Jodo' as an atmosphere has been created in the country, for the first time since Independence, that there is hate, tension and violence.

The whole country is concerned about this, he said.

"We have been requesting Prime Minister Narendra Modi that you should appeal that there should be love, brotherhood and harmony among people and violence will not be tolerated. He has not done so till now," Gehlot said.

"There is so much polarisation, hate has been created in the name of caste and religion. If this is not controlled, it can go towards civil war," he said.

May better sense prevails, he said, targeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah.

Rahul Gandhi believes in non-violence, he said, adding he has no hate in his heart.

Gehlot's remarks come amid the talks around him emerging as the possible non-Gandhi Congress party chief.

The Gandhi loyalists in the party appeared to have intensified their campaign to retain the party’s first family at the helm.

On his part, Gehlot has repeatedly asked Rahul Gandhi to take the top post.

Now, Rajya Sabha MP Pramod Tiwari, who is close to Priyanka, has said that it will be “fine if the party is led by someone in the Gandhi family.”

Amid discussions centering on a non-Gandhi being made the party president or the party’s Number 2, Tiwari said that whenever the Gandhi family did not lead the party, it had faced the danger of fragmentation.

Talking to the media at the Congress headquarters, Tiwari said: “The schedule for the election of the Congress chief has been announced. Whoever wants can file one’s nomination and Congress will elect him. But on a personal level, I want to say that the Gandhi family should lead the party.”

On whether it should be Rahul or Priyanka for the top post, Tiwari said, “The Gandhi family means the entire Gandhi family. Therefore, any of its members can be asked to lead.”

Gehlot had a big role in sending Tiwari to the Rajya Sabha from Rajasthan. Out of four seats, the Congress had only two winning votes and the BJP had enough votes to ensure a win for one candidate.

The Congress fielded Tiwari as the third candidate, while the BJP had supported independent Subhash Chandra. Due to Gehlot’s political skills, Tiwari won and Chandra lost.

It is clear from Tiwari’s statement that Gehlot is not ready to leave the CM’s chair and go to Delhi. His supporters say if he is asked to lead the party, he will do so, but will also “perform his duties as the CM.”

Ever since speculation grew over Gehlot’s new role in Delhi, there has been a demand for making Sachin Pilot the CM. On Tuesday, on his 46th birthday, Pilot supporters made a big show in Jaipur.

The state Congress headquarters and Pilot’s residence at Civil Lines were littered with posters and hoardings of Sachin Pilot. Those who came to his residence to wish him included 21 ministers and MLAs.

After the announcement of the election of the Congress chief about 10 days back, the Pilot faction has been more active.

“Sachin Pilot played a crucial role in bringing Congress government in the state. How long would you test his patience?” asked Indraj Gurjar, MLA from Virat Nagar assembly seat.

(With PTI and ENS Inputs)