KOTA, Dec 3 (PTI): Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot and his former deputy Sachin Pilot may have put up a united front before AICC general secretary (organisation) K C Venugopal, but their supporters are reportedly showing one-upmanship on the ground ahead of the Bharat Jodo Yatra.
Supporters of the two leaders are competing in Hadoti to highlight their dominance, which is visible from the hoardings in the region. This has also led to blame games between leaders of the two factions.
Pramod Sharma, who contested the 2019 Lok Sabha elections from the Congress in Jhalawar, alleged that the Pilot camp has been attempting to weaken Gehlot’s influence.
Sharma targeted Jhalawar district in-charge minister Pramod Jain Bhaya alleging that he was weakening the party’s roots by leading a separate group of local people, and thereby sidelining efforts of the party’s other workers.
“The particular group (Bhaya’s group) is going ahead everywhere only with Sachin Pilot. In many posters and hoardings that have come out up, pictures of Pilot, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra are occupying the maximum space, while those having Ashok Gehlot’s picture prominently are lesser,” Sharma said.
He also claimed that pictures of the party’s national president Mallikarjun Kharge and former president Sonia Gandhi were confined to small circles in the hoardings.
Another local leader involved in the arrangements said the conflict between Gehlot and Pilot does not seem to end soon and this is clearly reflected in the hoardings.
However, both the factions are believed to maintain calm during the yatra because of Venugopal’s recent intervention between the two leaders, a Congress Seva Dal worker in Jhalawar’s Chanwali said.
Jhalawar district Congress president Virendra Singh Gurjar, who is working under Pramod Bhaya for the yatra, however, said there was no infighting as far as the event was concerned.
Gurjar, who is considered seen as a Pilot loyalist, told PTI on Saturday that party workers prepared the banners with photos of leaders of their choice.
He said only three things were dominant in all the advertisements — pictures of Rahul Gandhi, the party’s name and its symbol.
He said all party leaders and workers were eager to welcome Gandhi in Rajasthan.
PCC member Suresh Gurjar, who contested the last assembly election from Khanpur and is believed to be a Pilot loyalist, also denied groupism and dominance of a particular faction.
He said both Gehlot and Pilot were their leaders and their pictures were displayed prominently in all the advertisements brought out in connection with the yatra.
The yatra will enter Jhalawar from Madhya Pradesh on Sunday evening.
On Monday morning, Gandhi will start the Rajasthan leg of the yatra from Kali Talai area, which comes under BJP leader Vasundhara Raje’s constituency Jhalrapatan.
Raje has been representing Jhalarapatan since 2003 while her son Dushyant Singh is serving as the MP from Jhalwar constituency for the third time.
The yatra will enter Kota on Tuesday.
Kota-Bundi is the parliamentary constituency of Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla. Parliamentary affairs minister in Gehlot government Shanti Dhariwal also hails from Kota.
Dhariwal was among three Congress leaders who had been issued notices for indiscipline after they refused to attend the Congress Legislature Party meeting on September 25 and held a parallel meeting instead.
Meanwhile, preparations for the yatra are in final stages in Jhalrapatan’s Chanwli village.
Three grounds covering around 45 bighas of land have been prepared for the night stay of the leaders on Sunday.
Of these, the middle ground is meant for Rahul Gandhi’s convoy, consisting of approximately 20 vehicles, while the first ground is for the state-level Congress workers and the third one for local party workers.
Around six to eight state ministers and several senior party workers have reached Jhalawar to review the preparations.
Gehlot, too, took stock of the preparations on Friday.
Besides Jhalawar and Kota, the yatra will also cover Bundi, Sawai Madhopur, Dausa and Alwar districts in 17 days.
Gandhi will hold dialogues with farmers in Lalsot of Dausa on December 15 and a public rally in Alwar’s Malakheda on December 19.
The yatra is scheduled to enter Haryana on December 21.