Sachin Pilot (left) and Ashok Gehlot. Image Credit: PTI

“I came here six days ago to fight for a leadership change in my party. I did not launch a fight against my party. But see where Ashok Gehlot has taken it. The incremental abuse, the legal onslaught. I said I don’t want to join the BJP. Why doesn’t the Congress believe me?” said a source very close to Sachin Pilot on his epic battle with Ashok Gehlot, Chief Minister of Rajasthan.

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Top sources say the Congress party is convinced by Gehlot’s assertion that his deputy Pilot had launched a bid in partnership with the BJP to topple the Congress government in Rajasthan.

They say Pilot made three attempts in league with the BJP once before the coronavirus era. Gehlot has gone public with his visceral dislike for Pilot. Among other choice abuses he has called him a “nikamaa” (worthless), a baby faced intriguer with a black heart and a man who speaks good English and is hence promoted by TV anchors.”

Gehlot, who is now also fighting a legal battle to disqualify Pilot and his group of 18 dissident MLAs, says unlike himself and his struggle, Pilot was an over ambitious politician, who did not have to go through “ragraiye” (struggle).

Gehlot has written a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi saying that the BJP in league with some ambitious Congress leaders is trying to topple his government in the times of a pandemic.

The plot

Team Pilot on the other hand maintains that he is not fighting against the Congress but only against Gehlot and Gehlot has made it about the party because he wants to throw him out of Rajasthan politics to clear the way for his son - Vaibhav Gehlot. Team Pilot says they worked hard to make the Congress win in Rajasthan (a reference to Pilot’s term as Congress state chief) and Pilot had been putting up with an intolerable situation for the past 18 months with Gehlot insulting him and humiliating him on a daily basis.

While the BJP has stepped in to make life difficult for Gehlot with the Enforcement Directorate raiding his brother and income tax raids on close aides of Gehlot, Team Pilot says it has nothing to do with this.

“Gehlot issued a tape and claimed that a central minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat was trying to topple the Congress government. This is the BJP of Amit Shah and Modi, why will they not do this? They are vindictive. It is not Pilot who has told them to do this,” says a source close to Pilot.

Team Pilot also refutes all conspiracy theories about him switching parties because of the release of Omar Abdullah and Farooq Abdullah from detention (Pilot is married to Abdullah’s daughter) saying this is absolutely untrue. Even Omar Abdullah, former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir has said he will take Bhupesh Baghel, chief minister of Chattisgarh, to court for tweeting this.

So what happens next in this Bollywood style political potboiler?

Both sides are waiting for a judicial verdict and hoping it favours them. Team Pilot says he has a lot to say especially about Gehlot. And, Gehlot is trying to save his government from going the Madhya Pradesh way. The fight has just begun. Watch this space.

Swati Chaturvedi, Special to Gulf News-1592296808900