Agar Malwa (Madhya Pradesh): Ahead of the Rahul Gandhi-led Bharat Jodo Yatra entering Rajasthan on December 4, Congress General Secretary Jairam Ramesh on Friday said any solution to the leadership tussle in the western state to be chalked out by party president Mallikarjun Kharge will be based on the principle that organisation is supreme and not an individual.
Rajasthan is witnessing a power struggle between Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and his former deputy and rival Sachin Pilot with the acrimony between them worsening recently after the former used the term 'gaddar' (traitor) for the latter. Gehlot and Pilot, a former deputy CM, have been at loggerheads over chief ministership ever since the Congress won the Rajasthan polls in 2018.
"Whatever formula Khargeji and other leaders will come up will be based only on one principle - that the organisation is supreme. So, whatever formula is implemented, it will not be implemented from the viewpoint of individual A or individual B, but from the viewpoint of the organisation," Ramesh told PTI during a 'walk the talk' interview on Friday.
"Whatever will be implemented will be in the interest of the organisation. It is not the question of individual A or individual B. It is the Congress party. The Congress has to be strengthened and prepared for the 2023 Assembly elections (in some states, including Rajasthan) and the 2024 Lok Sabha polls," said the party General Secretary in-charge of communications.
Queried whether Gehlot (71) will accept Pilot (45) as new Rajasthan chief minster, Ramesh said former Congress president Rahul Gandhi has clearly said both leaders are assets to the party.
"Gehlot is a senior and experienced leader, while Pilot is a young, popular and energetic leader. Both are assets and we need both of them in the party," said the former Union minister who is in Madhya Pradesh as part of the Congress Bharat Jodo Yatra.
While Gehlot has been saying that Pilot's 2020 rebellion cannot be ignored and that he does not enjoy the support of a majority of the Congress MLAs, the Pilot camp has been claiming the legislators want a change in the leadership in Rajasthan.
Ramesh was leading a Congress Sewa Dal march that started at 6am in Agar Malwa district in the presence of Rajya Sabha MP Digvijaya Singh and the latter's MLA-son Jaivardhan Singh, holding the tricolor ahead of the Bharat Jodo Yatra.
Asked if the "50-50 formula" will be implemented in the Congress-ruled Chhattisgarh, where Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel and health minister TS Singh Deo are reportedly at loggerheads, Ramesh sidestepped the question and said his party will win the 2023 Assembly polls in the central state.
"See, this 50-50 formula and all I have no idea. But I can tell you the party is united and we will win the 2023 Assembly elections (in Chhattisgarh) with a convincing majority," said the Rajya Sabha MP.
In June 2021, the rivalry between the two Congress leaders came to the fore after Baghel completed two-and-a-half years as CM. Singh Deo's supporters had then claimed that as per an understanding reached in 2018, he was supposed to take over as CM after Baghel completed half the term.
Asked whether the Chhattisgarh polls will be fought under the leadership of Baghel, Ramesh said he was not aware of it.
"Everybody has an individual ambition, but right now Gandhi has embarked on a Bharat Jodo Yatra. We should forget about individual ambitions. We have only one objective now, which is to make the yatra a huge success. And how to strengthen the Congress party and how to take forward the efforts of Rahul Gandhi in the last 86 days (of the cross-country march)," he said.
So, this is not the time for any Congressperson to think about himself like "mera kya hoga" (what will happen to me?), said the party General Secretary.
Asked about the Gujarat Assembly polls, where voting in the first phase (83 seats) took place on December 1 and the second phase (93 seats) is due on December 5, Ramesh said he has not followed the elections closely in the Bharatiya Janata Party-ruled state as he was busy with preparations of the Bharat Jodo Yatra, but added, people want a change.
"The fact is, in the absence of any development in education, health and with price rise, both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah were forced to camp in Gujarat to run a polarized and communal campaign," he claimed.
Ramesh praised the Madhya Pradesh Congress leadership for smooth conduct of the cross-country march in the state. The yatra, which started on September 7 from Tamil Nadu, will enter Rajasthan on December 4 after covering a distance of 380 km in the politically crucial Malwa-Nimar region of western Madhya Pradesh.
(If you have a story in and around Mumbai, you have our ears, be a citizen journalist and send us your story here. )