PM hints at Gehlot’s rift with Pilot, CM says Modi wrecked railways’ pride


New Delhi: Launching poll-bound Rajasthan’s first Vande Bharat train Wednesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi took a jibe at Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot as he thanked him for attending the inauguration event in spite of the political turmoil in his state.

The broadside came a day after Gehlot’s bête noir and former deputy chief minister Sachin Pilot held a hunger strike against his own government to demand the CM order a probe into corruption charges against the previous Vasundhara Raje-led BJP government.

“I congratulate Gehlot ji. These days, he’s facing a lot of political back and forth and challenges. In spite of that, he took time out for development and came here. He participated in my event. I welcome him and also thank him,” Modi said, addressing the ceremony virtually. 

“I want to tell him (Gehlot) — You have ladoos in both hands. The Railways Minister (Ashwini Vaishnaw) is from Rajasthan, and the Chairman of Railway Board (Anil Kumar Lahoti) is also from Rajasthan,” he added.

The Delhi Cantt-Ajmer Vande Bharat Express was the sixth Vande Bharat to be flagged off in the last two months, Modi said.

The Prime Minister also mentioned his “friendship” with the Rajasthan chief minister.

“The work that should’ve been done right after Independence, hasn’t happened till now, but you trust me so much that you’ve left the work to me. Your trust shows the power of my friendship. And it is this friendship because of which you trust me. I thank you,” Modi said, taking potshots at the Congress veteran.

Soon, Gehlot issued a response stating that it was unfortunate that the Prime Minister had marred the tenure of all previous railway ministers.

“You’ve already brought down the pride of the Railways by doing away with a separate Railways Budget in your tenure. Today, if modern trains are plying, it’s because in 1991, Dr. Manmohan Singh instituted economic liberalisation and made it possible for new technology to grow in India. World over, time has brought about technological advancement because of which India got new technology and was able to improve its Railways. It’s not correct to say that development work in the Railways happened only after 2014,” Gehlot wrote in the statement published in Hindi.

The Rajasthan chief minister asserted that Modi’s speech was made in the context of the state and general elections and in the pursuit of the BJP’s poll agenda.

“I don’t think these statements of yours will be acceptable to those in and outside the country,” Gehlot added.

(Edited by Tony Rai)

Also Read: Why Gehlot is taking a leaf out of BJP book & celebrating ‘Labharthi Utsav’ with govt beneficiaries


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