Congress General Secretary K.C Vennugopal along with Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and party leader Sachin Pilot speaks to the media outside party president Mallikarjun Kharge's residence, in New Delhi on Monday. Image Credit: ANI

In India former Deputy Chief Minister of Rajasthan, Sachin Pilot, is experiencing a sense of disappointment towards the Congress party and the Gandhi family.

Despite his aspirations to succeed his rival Ashok Gehlot as Chief Minister, a commitment made by all three members of the Gandhi family, the party has failed to intervene and halt Gehlot's ongoing verbal abuse towards Pilot.

Gehlot has previously referred to Pilot as "nikama" (useless), "gaddar" (traitor), and even went as far as calling him "corona.” Pilot has maintained his dignity by remaining silent in the face of these continuous verbal attacks, as he believes Gehlot is intentionally trying to undermine him and make a public spectacle out of the abuse.

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Those recent pictures depicting harmony within the Congress party, including the meeting between Malikarjun Kharge, Congress President, and the two conflicting leaders, should be disregarded.

Even after a two-hour one-on-one meeting with the party's top brass, Gehlot refused to commit to refraining from publicly attacking Pilot.

A New Regional Party?

It is worth noting that Pilot plans to hold a rally in Dausa on June 11, which marks the death anniversary of his father, Rajesh Pilot. Speculation is rife within the Congress that he may announce the formation of a regional party on that day, although there is currently no certainty regarding Pilot's intentions. Detractors, however, are making the most of this rumored plan.

Sources close to Pilot have revealed that he has declined the party's offer to move to Delhi and take on the role of a central party office bearer. Pilot believes that such a move would deliberately sever his connection with the masses in Rajasthan, as he would become just another member of the Rajya Sabha.

Unlike many privileged leaders who have abandoned the Congress (such as Jyotiraditya Scindia, Jitin Prasada, and R P N Singh) to join the BJP, Pilot actually worked as the Congress chief in Rajasthan for five years, striving to bring the party back to power.

Rajasthan's Political Turmoil

According to a leader close to Pilot, "The Congress party is currently dominated by a group of leaders who are primarily Rajya Sabha types, such as Jairam Ramesh, K C Venugopal, and Malikarjun Kharge. They primarily engage in politics in Delhi because they lack any significant base in their respective states. This group is closely aligned with Gehlot and believes that the best solution is to incorporate Pilot into the Rajya Sabha, thereby eliminating him as an irritant to Gehlot and undermining his grassroots support."

Pilot vehemently opposes this proposition. Recognising that he could not force a change in leadership in Rajasthan, as Gehlot refused to step aside, Pilot now insists that the Congress party publicly commits to a succession plan that would eventually allow him the opportunity to fulfill his dream of becoming Chief Minister.

Since his unsuccessful rebellion, Pilot has played by the party's rules, diligently adhering to the party script and campaigning wherever he has been assigned, including in Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.

Interestingly, Pilot's name was deliberately omitted as a star campaigner in Karnataka, where the Congress had a strong chance of victory. Clearly, Pilot's rivals within the party wanted to ensure that he had no association with any potential victories.

Congress Party's Catch-22

A leader from Pilot's camp ruefully remarked, "Ever since his return to the Congress fold, Pilot has been careful and cautious. But how long can this last? The opposing side keeps spreading rumors that he is in talks with Prashant Kishor, a political strategist, to form a regional party. In politics, everyone talks to everyone else. Pilot engages with both Kishor and Sunil Kanugolu, who was part of the Congress strategic team in Karnataka. However, why should he leave the Congress? Pilot is a young man in politics, and currently, that's his only advantage."

With elections in Rajasthan looming on the political horizon, the Congress party finds itself divided between the Gehlot and Pilot factions. Rajasthan is a state with a bipolar political landscape that typically swings between the Congress and the BJP.

The only saving grace for the Congress is that even the Rajasthan BJP is grappling with internal conflicts, particularly between local strong leader Vasundraraje Scindia and Modi-Shah, who seek to replace her.

Modi has long desired Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, currently a minister in the central government, to take over as the leader. BJP sources suggest that the top two leaders were also considering sending Ashwini Vaishnav, who hails from Rajasthan, back to the state. However, due to the recent tragic railway accident in Odisha, the railway minister's reputation has suffered a setback.