By Archana Sharma
Jaipur, Feb 12 (IANS) Former Congress President Rahul Gandhi’s two-day visit to Rajasthan seemed to marred by poor arrangements by the faction-ridden ruling party as the ‘Khat’ on the dais, accommodating senior leaders such as former state chief Sachin Pilot, collapsed during the ‘Kisan Mahapanchayat’.
The incident occurred at the mahapanchayat at Pilibanga in Hanumangarh district.
The opposition BJP immediately termed the gathering a “total failure”.
State BJP President Satish Poonia said: “Today Rahul Gandhi left the people in Rajasthan disappointed as he did not entertain them. He spoke without basis on agricultural laws; misled people about China and made obnoxious remarks on the Prime Minister; and the khat also came down in the programme, meaning total failure.”
The seating arrangements also underscored a rift in the ruling party, as Pilot was three seats away from Gandhi scion, who was flanked by Chief Minister Ashok Gehot on his right and state Congress chief Govind Singh Dotasara on his left. State in charge Ajay Maken was sitting next to Dotasara and then was Pilot.
Earlier, Pilot used to sit next to Gandhi when he held the position of state chief and Deputy Chief Minister.
There were speculations earlier if Pilot would be on the dais at all as he neither holds any party position nor any ministry. However his presence underscored his calibre and political acumen for he managed to sit along with top leaders despite his differences with the Gehlot camp.
However, the differences were very much evident when the press note sent by state Congress did not mention Pilot’s name. He also did not address the Pilibanga meet but spoke at the Kisan Mahapanchayat in Padampura for a few minutes.
There has also been a change in Gandhi’s schedule on Saturday as two of his Kisaan Mahapanchayats in Ajmer’s Sursura and Nagaur’s Parbatsar have been cancelled and he will address only one gathering in Makrana.
Congress officials told IANS that Pilot has a strong hold in Sursura and Parbatsar and hence Gehlot camp has cancelled Gandhi’s scheduled programmes in these places.
Parbatsar MLA Ramniwas Gavadia belongs to Pilot camp and had made comprehensive arrangements for Gandhi’s visit, but the last minute cancellation of the programmes has again kindled speculation.
Congress’ official statement is awaited.
By Archana Sharma