‘If Gehlot is told to leave the CM’s position, it may break the party in two in the state’.
NEW DELHI: The leadership tussle between the Sachin Pilot and Ashok Gehlot has reappeared, after Pilot hit the roads and started a solo campaign across the state. The move is being seen as a pressure tactic to make the Congress high command go for a change in guard in Rajasthan. Rajasthan Congress unit incharge, Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, this week said, “Any decision will be taken after the completion of Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra on 30 January.”
It is also circulating within the close circles of Pilot that he had warned Rahul Gandhi of consequences of not taking a decision soon, and cautioned that he would take decisions on his own irrespective of the negative impact it will have on the cadre, if the high command lets things be as they are now. Meanwhile, for the last few days, Pilot has been touring various parts of Rajasthan, addressing rallies of farmers and youth and criticizing the Gehlot government on several issues. A political analyst said, “Pilot’s patience has exhausted now. He knows it is now or never. He believes he can rebuild the state cadre and beat the anti-incumbency gained by the Gehlot government. He has also waited for so long that it has made him averse towards Gehlot. He doesn’t want to see himself as number two for he could be ready to give his last fight.”
According to sources close to Pilot, he has also been unhappy with the high command for failing to punish those who didn’t obey the party leadership by refusing to be a part of CLP meet. Even after three months now, the inquiry committee set up by the party to find the “perpetrators” has not disclosed the findings of the committee. A senior leader said, “The Congress knew it is Gehlot who had inspired the rebellion and if his name had emerged, it could have badly damaged the party.” A senior Congress leader in the AICC said, “The way he was seen in the party is no more the same after what he did. His role and importance has subsequently diminished.” However, the change of guard may not go smoothly, according to party leaders, unless some “magic” is done by Rahul Gandhi by negotiating terms with both Pilot and Gehlot. A source close to Gehlot said, “As far as things stand, it is very difficult to believe that Gehlot will leave his position, because he is into a lot of work right now, plus he has been more active which has put him in more limelight.”
A political observer said, “If by any chance Gehlot is told to leave the CM’s position, it may break the party in two in the state; we have seen Gehlot speaking about Pilot in harsh words several times. There is also unanimity among Gehlot loyalists that Gehlot will do everything, but will never leave his place for Pilot to grab.”
Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh recently told a press conference: “Khargeji, our Rajasthan in-charge (Randhawa), and many leaders are engaged in finding a solution. The unity, discipline and togetherness that we have seen in the Bharat Jodo Yatra in all the states, especially in Rajasthan, gives me confidence that some way or the other will be found, which will be beneficial for the organisation. Leave aside individuals, the organisation is paramount.”