Rajasthan Chief Minister and Congress leader Ashok Gehlot has stood up in defence of his party colleague Sachin Pilot, who has been attacked by the BJP over claims that his father Rajesh Pilot dropped bombs on the country’s own citizens in Mizoram as an Indian Air Force (IAF) pilot in March 1966.
BJP social media cell chief Amit Malviya in a post on X, formerly Twitter, alleged Rajesh Pilot and Suresh Kalmadi flew IAF jets that bombed Aizawl, the capital of Mizoram, in March 1966.
“Later both became MPs on Congress tickets and ministers in the government. It is clear that Indira Gandhi gave a place in politics as a reward, gave respect to those who carried out air raids on their own people in the Northeast,” Mr Malviya said in the post in Hindi.
Today, Mr Gehlot responded the BJP is insulting the IAF’s sacrifices.
“Congress leader Shri Rajesh Pilot was a brave pilot of the Indian Air Force. By insulting them, the BJP is insulting the sacrifice of the Indian Air Force. The whole country should condemn this,” Mr Gehlot posted, in a rare show of unity with Sachin Pilot, with whom he has been having frictions over the top post in Rajasthan.
कांग्रेस नेता श्री राजेश पायलट भारतीय वायुसेना के वीर पायलट थे।
उनका अपमान करके भाजपा भारतीय वायुसेना के बलिदान का अपमान कर रही है। इसकी पूरे देश को निंदा करनी चाहिए।
— Ashok Gehlot (@ashokgehlot51) August 16, 2023
With the Rajasthan election scheduled this year, Mr Gehlot’s support to Mr Pilot and his family’s legacy when they came under the BJP’s attack is being seen as a broadcast to mean the Congress is united in the state.
Mr Pilot, responding to Mr Malviya yesterday, had pointed out the BJP social media chief got the dates wrong on the Mizoram information.
“You have the wrong dates, wrong facts… Yes, as an Indian Air Force pilot, my late father did drop bombs. But that was on erstwhile East Pakistan during the 1971 Indo-Pak war and not as you claim, on Mizoram on the 5th of March 1966,” Sachin Pilot posted on X. “He was commissioned into the IAF only on 29th October 1966. (certificate attached). Jai Hind and a happy Independence Day,” he added.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi last week blamed successive Congress governments in the centre of mishandling the northeast, leading to a highly volatile situation today.
PM Modi said former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi used the IAF to “attack the people of Mizoram”. Such decisions alienated the people and the northeast could never truly unite or be developed under successive Congress rule, which is now changing, PM Modi said.