- The back story to that is that Gandhi, when he was the Congress president, had promised Pilot that he would eventually be made the chief minister of Rajasthan.
- Gandhi quit as Congress president and all his promises appeared to be history.
Former Deputy Chief Minister of Rajasthan and Congress state chief Sachin Pilot appears to have crash-landed in his bid to force a leadership change and replace rival Ashok Gehlot as the chief minister.
Following Gehlot’s outburst against him, accusing him of indulging in horse trading with the BJP and a rare vituperative rant against those who speak good English, are handsome and give “good bytes,” Pilot’s return to state politics seem very distant.
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In a patch up bid with the Congress high command and the Gandhi family, Pilot gave a series of interviews saying he was not joining the BJP and people wanted to tar his image before the Gandhi family.
Considering that just a day before Pilot was hanging tough and still claiming the support of 30 MLAs, it seemed that his plans had gone awry as the number of MLAs in his support did not go up.
While the Congress high command sent conciliatory signals all day asking Pilot to return to Jaipur and leave the Manesar (Haryana) resort of a BJP-ruled state, Gehlot, who has a visceral dislike of Pilot, tried to queer the pitch with his outburst.
Meanwhile, Pilot seems braced for the legal battle ahead asking Abhishek Manu Singhvi, senior counsel and Congress MP, to represent him. Singhvi, apparently, declined citing the party. Congress sources say Pilot will not be expelled as that will help him retain his legislator status.
Four days post Pilot’s rebellion what is the bigger picture?
Let me unpick.
Pilot, who is a workaholic and a details planner, clearly lost his cool when the police notice was issued.
Pilot seemed to have had enough of the daily snubs and humiliation meted out by his boss. For once it appeared as if his ego had gotten the better of him. Pilot also expected unstinting support from Rahul Gandhi which did not happen.
The back story to that is that Gandhi, when he was the Congress president, had promised Pilot that he would eventually be made the chief minister of Rajasthan.
Gandhi quit as Congress president and all his promises appeared to be history. When Pilot sought “justice” as he did in his first interview to Gulf News that is what he meant.
While it appears that Gehlot has won this round, it is a limited victory. Gehlot is 69 and is unlikely to lead the Congress party in the future elections. Gehlot is anxiously planning the political future of his son Vaibhav who lost from the Jodhpur constituency. This succession planning cannot happen without the Congress high command on board so he can push his vendetta against Pilot only to a certain point.
Pilot is a well-liked leader in Rajasthan and the Congress does not have another face to project in that state. That currently is what Pilot is banking on. The BJP, which tried to fish in troubled waters, has former chief minister Vasundhara Raje to contend with. Raje has the allegiance of nearly 45 MLAs and will not brook any rival being created by the BJP.
Raje also has a troubled relationship with both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah. Currently the Congress would like to move Pilot out of Rajasthan and Gehlot’s way into a central role and Pilot would clearly like a path out of self-created turbulence.