Taking a dig at Sachin Pilot over his rebellion in Rajasthan, veteran Congress leader Margaret Alva on Sunday asked why the former deputy chief minister was in such a “hurry” and whether he was “aspiring” to become the prime minister by 45 years of age by joining the BJP.
The former Union Minister also lashed out at Pilot over the timing of his rebellion and said when the entire country is fighting COVID-19 and China in the wake of the border standoff, he is seeking appointment as Rajasthan chief minister.
“Congress formed a majority government in Rajasthan and Sachin Pilot became his (Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot’s) deputy. He got four important portfolios also, as well as the post of PCC (state Congress unit) chief,” Alva told PTI Bhasha in an interview.
Pilot became an MP at 26, was a Union minister and later he became Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) chief followed by deputy chief minister, she said.
“Where did you want to reach in such a hurry? Whether you wanted to become chief minister at 43 and prime minister at 45 by joining the BJP,” the former Rajasthan governor asked of 42-year-old Pilot.
Alva’s remarks come amid the raging political firestorm in Rajasthan where Pilot declared open rebellion against the Gehlot government. Pilot was sacked as deputy chief minister and state Congress chief last week.
Though Pilot had asserted that he is not joining the BJP, the Congress has accused him of taking support from the saffron party in efforts to topple the Gehlot government.
While criticising Pilot for his actions, Alva, however, pitched for giving voice to the young leadership in the party’s decision-making process.
She also said that former Congress president Rahul Gandhi should be allowed to form a new “young team” to instil “new approach and enthusiasm” in the grand old party.
“About 50 per cent of our total population is below the age of 25 years. Young voters have different aspirations and approach. What is the average age of so-called decision makers in the CWC (Congress Working Committee)? Barring four or five, rest are between 75 to 85. They are never allowing Rahul ji to come forward,” Alva said.
The former Congress general secretary said this is not a “tussle” with state leadership. The young leadership in the party today feels “uncomfortable” as it wants to involved in the decision-making process, she said.
“Allow Rahul ji to build his young team in Delhi. Then, the party will have a new approach and new enthusiasm. We need to bring these people in the decision-making process. The younger generation is in discomfort. They think, how long they will keep clapping sitting outside,” Alva said.
Hailing Gandhi’s leadership as Congress chief, Alva said the party won elections in Goa, Manipur, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar but at a later stage, people’s mandate was upended by the BJP.
“They are doing the same in Rajasthan. The BJP is not getting popular mandate except in a few states such as Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Assam. They didn’t get it in Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. They were defeated in Bihar but what happened later we all know. People of this country are watching such kind of politics,” she said.
On Gandhi stepping down from the post of president after the Lok Sabha polls, she said no one was happy in the party when he resigned as Congress chief.
“We all wanted him to continue. When he resigned, the party’s rank and file was not happy. It was not right of him to take all the blame on his own shoulder,” Alva said.
She said the leadership problem exists not only in the Congress but also in regional parties.
“Be it TDP or TRS or NCP under Sharad Pawar. No one is willing to vacate…see the CPM leadership in Kerala. What I mean to say is that there is a need in every party to relook at the leadership issue,” Alva said.
Alva, who is no longer in active politics, said if there are differences or any issues within the party, it should be addressed within party forums and senior leaders cannot leave every problem for interim party chief Sonia Gandhi to deal with.
“There is a disciplinary committee, there is a working committee, there are general secretaries…what are they doing? What are these senior leaders doing? If you can’t do it, leave. Give opportunity to the youth to come forward,” she said.
“There is a small group which has no mass base, but is taking decisions in every party,” the veteran leader said.
Asked whether it was the right time for the Congress to have a full-fledged president, Alva said no one was willing to take on the responsibility.
“If someone wants, let him come forward…in fact no one is willing to take this responsibility,” she said.
Alva said she had suggested in the past that the Congress should appoint three vice-presidents for North, South and North-East but her suggestions went unheard.
“Give these responsibilities to the younger generation,” she added.
On the rebellion by Jyotiraditya Scindia in Madhya Pradesh, Alva said every demand can’t be met and such leaders have no commitment for the party and its ideology.
She said Scindia was general secretary of the party and was offered the post of deputy chief minister in Madhya Pradesh, which he refused. Scindia after leaving the Congress joined the BJP.
“Congress is a big party. There are so many states. Everyone’s demand can’t be met,” she said and added that during the times of Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi, no one had the courage to seek any “post” for himself or herself.
“This is a new era. They are the new generation…There is no commitment for ideology. There is no commitment for problems in the party and for its solutions. Those joining the BJP, have no commitment for the ideology, they are joining it just for the greed and for the sake of power,” she said.
“But remember one thing, Congress can never be finished. It has a history of 150 years. During these times we won, we lost, we went to jails and we also enjoyed power, but there is none who can finish the Congress,” Alva asserted.