The party is a divided house in Rajasthan – one of the two states it still rules without an alliance. While a section of the party’s base is loyal to State Chief Ashok Gehlot, another wants him to be replaced by Sachin Pilot, his ex-deputy and former chief of the party in the state.
In-fighting in the Congress Party in India’s Rajasthan state has boiled over after one of its ministers publicly criticized another key figure who has also served as deputy state chief.
Rajasthan Sports Minister Ashok Chandna hit out at former Deputy State Chief Sachin Pilot on Monday after Pilot’s supporters reportedly “attacked” Chandna with a shoe at a public event attended by politicians from both the Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
“If Sachin Pilot becomes the state chief by throwing a shoe at me, he should be made so soon because today I do not feel like fighting. The day I come to fight, only one will be left and I do not want this,” the minister threatened on Twitter on Monday.
As per the PTI news agency, shoes were hurled at Chandna at a public event to mark the anniversary of the late Kirori Singh Bainsla’s birth. Bainsla was a rights activist and social leader who led several movements in the state to demand reservation for the Gurjars, a nomadic and pastoral community that comprises around 9 percent of the state’s estimated population of 82 million.
Besides Chandna, Congress lawmaker and State Industries Minister Shakuntala Rawat, Rajasthan BJP President Satish Poonia, and Parliamentary Speaker Om Birla were also in attendance.
Notably, Pilot, who is a Gurjar, was not invited to the event, irking his supporters. When Chandna and other Congress politicians took the stage, they were hooted by the crowd, with some even tossing shoes at them. Police were called in to bring the situation under control.
However, this isn’t the first time Pilot’s supporters have created a ruckus. In 2020, during a meeting of Congress legislators in Jaipur city, Pilot and Gehlot loyalists came to blows before police used a baton charge to separate them.