By Ram Kumar Kaushik
Ashok Gehlot has shown rare solidarity with Sachin Pilot after the 2020 rebellion when Pilot along with few MLAs camped at Manesar in an open protest to Gehlot government. Though the government survived but Gehlot-Pilot ‘bonhomie' died an unnatural death. Since then Gehlot has been critical about Pilot had rarely backed him on public forum.
But this time Gehlot came out in open and extended support and back up to Sachin Pilot who was attacked by the BJP over claims that his father Rajesh Pilot dropped bombs as an air force pilot in Mizoram in March 1966.
Gehlot condemned BJP for insulting the sacrifice of the Indian Air Force. In a tweet, he acclaimed Rajesh Pilot as a brave pilot. But the tweet has no mention of Sachin Pilot.
“Congress leader Shri Rajesh Pilot was a brave pilot of the Indian Air Force. By insulting them, the BJP is insulting the sacrifice of the Indian Air Force. The whole country should condemn this,” Gehlot wrote on X (formerly Twitter).
Political Message: Indirect reaching out to Sachin Pilot before polls
For those who know Gehlot can easily comprehend why the chief minister has softened his stand for Sachin Pilot? Gehlot this time means business and he is leaving no stone unturned for a repeat of Congress government. Even broken thumbs of his legs can't stop him from going miles to garner support for his party and government. A wheel chaired Gehlot is seen everywhere distributing booties among public ahead of elections.
After criticising and even ‘naming' Sachin Pilot on several occasions, praising Pilot or putting good words for him would have been difficult for Gehlot. So in a rare gesture, he came up strongly to defend Sachin father and his old party colleague Rajesh Pilot on twitter. This not only gives him a reason to attack to attack BJP but also an opportunity to show a softened stand towards Sachin, who is crucial for Congress win in the election.
Pilot holds a strong hold over voters especially in eastern Rajasthan. Gehlot knows that without Sachin's active involvement, Congress win is a far cry. Even party high command knows it and that is the reason why Pilot has been part of all the poll committees of the Congress formed so far.
What's the fuss about?
Earlier, BJP IT department head Amit Malviya had claimed that Rajesh Pilot and Suresh Kalmadi were flying the Indian Air Force planes that bombed Aizawl, the capital of Mizoram, on March 5, 1966.
“Later both became MPs on Congress tickets and ministers in the government. It is clear that Indira Gandhi gave a place in politics as a reward, gave respect to those who carried out air raids on their own people in the Northeast,” Malviya had said in a post on X.
Hitting back at Malviya, Sachin Pilot said the facts and dates were wrong as his father was commissioned into the force in October that year.
“@amitmalviya – You have the wrong dates, wrong facts. Yes, as an Indian Air Force pilot, my late father did drop bombs. But that was on erstwhile East Pakistan during the 1971 Indo-Pak war and not as you claim, on Mizoram on the 5th of March 1966,” Sachin Pilot tweeted.
“He was commissioned into the IAF only on 29th October 1966! (Certificate attached). Jai hind and a happy Independence Day,” Pilot said on twitter and shared the certificate according to which Rajesh Pilot was commissioned in the Indian Air Force on October 29, 1966.
Ram Kumar Kaushik is a seasoned journalist with over 25 years of experience across mediums. The architect of this news website, he is also a consultant with several media groups. He was formerly the group managing editor of ITV Network (NewsX, India News and The Sunday Guardian) and its digital products.