After addressing a gathering in Tonk, the former deputy CM told reporters that the issues of the widows should be heard with sensitivity and that any politics over the matter is “reprehensible”.
‘Rules can be amended’
“Politics on ‘Virangana’ (widows of soldiers who died in Pulwama attack) is wrong. It will send a wrong message. The issue of one-two jobs isn’t big, rules were amended earlier, they can be amended ahead as well,” Pilot said, adding that the brave soldiers on India’s borders should never feel that there families will not be taken care of by the government.
On Friday, Rajasthan police had removed the widows from the protest site outside Pilot’s house and shifted them to hospitals near their respective residential areas.
The widows have been protesting since February 28 and launched an indefinite hunger strike six days ago, demanding a change in rules so that their relatives and not just children can get government jobs on compassionate grounds.
Their other demands include the construction of roads and the installation of statues of the martyrs in their villages.
‘Set aside ego’
Condemning the police action, Pilot had on Friday asked CM Gehlot to fulfill the demands of the widows.
“No one should have so much ego, no matter how big a man is, he can at least listen to the demands of the wives of Pulwama martyrs. Building a road, installing a statue, changing the name of a college is not a big issue, it is a small task.”
“A message should not go out that we are not ready to listen to the demands of the widows of the martyrs. It is another thing whether we agree to their issues or not but one should put aside his ego while listening to their demands,” the Congress leader had said.
“If there is any demand other than the package given to the martyrs by the state and the Centre, then those should have been heard with sensitivity to resolve them,” he added.
‘Highest respect to martyrs’
Pilot has on several occasions spoken out against the Gehlot government’s refusal to consider the demands of the widows.
On March 8, Gehlot had tweeted in Hindi: “It is the responsibility of all of us to give the highest respect to martyrs and their families. Every citizen of Rajasthan does his duty to respect the martyrs, but some BJP leaders are disrespecting them by using the name of the widows of our valiant martyrs to earn political mileage. This has never been the tradition in Rajasthan. I condemn it.”
“If a job is given to the brother of a martyr today, then relatives of all martyrs may start putting undue social and family pressure to give jobs to family members other than their children,” he added.
“How can denying the rights of martyrs’ minor children be justified by giving jobs to other relatives? What will happen to martyrs’ children when they grow up as adults?” Gehlot asked.
Gehlot and Pilot have been at loggerheads publicly for more than two years.
In 2020, Pilot had led a rebellion in the party for a change of leadership in the state. However, Gehlot managed to survive the coup and Pilot and some of his loyalists were later ousted from the state cabinet.
Their conflict has simmered since, with both the senior Congress leaders using sharp words against each other publicly, including when Rahul Gandhi‘s Bharat Jodo Yatra entered the state in December last year.
(With inputs from agencies)