After nearly a month of impasse in Rajasthan Congress, truce has finally been called between the rival camps: Gehlot and Pilot.
Sachin Pilot met Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi and expressed his grievances in detail. They had a ‘frank, open and conclusive discussion’, as stated by KC Venugaopal, AICC organisational secretary.
Pilot reiterated his commitment to work in the interest of the Congress party and the Congress government in Rajasthan. he has thrown in the towel and conceded defeat. This has happened before the crucial Assembly session scheduled to convene on August 14.
The Congress has constituted a three-member committee to address the issues raised by Sachin Pilot and the aggrieved MLAs as a face saver for the Pilot camp.
In a late statement on Tuesday, Pilot welcomed the Congress leadership’s assurance of a ‘time-bound redressal’.
Pilot said: “We raised issues of principles before the Congress leadership and welcome their assurance of time-bound redressal of our grievances. I don’t crave for any post, party has given position and can take it back.’
“Some personal remarks have been made against me; I feel there is no place for such mudslinging in politics. We raised organisational issues, SOG case, style of functioning and governance in Rajasthan,” he added.
Last week Gehlot, in a conciliatory note, had said that he would welcome back the rebel MLAs with an open heart if the party top leadership ‘forgives them’.
Gehlot’s government had also withdrawn the sedition charge filed by the Special Operations Group in connection with an alleged attempt to topple his 1.5-year-old government.
Why Pilot camp conceded defeat?
Pilot conceded defeat as the Bharatiya Janata Party could not offer him a sweet deal. The Vasundhara Raje faction blocked his entry into the party fold. She reportedly also vetoed the formula of Pilot forming a regional party and forming government with outside support of the BJP.
Pilot couldn’t get the numbers required to topple the government. Gehlot used all his jadugari (magic) and experience to keep his flock together despite having high number of independents backing him.
That the courts did not provide any relief in the Bahujan Samaj Party MLAs’ disqualification case also did not help Pilot.
His supporters became weary and tired. They were also apprehensive of a possible arrest by the SOG if they landed in Jaipur for the session and if they did not turn up, face disqualification for defying the whip.
Sachin Pilot had already announced that he will not join the BJP (possibly as a future escape route) and he used this to make amends with the High Command.
What next for Pilot?
After the acrimonious exchange between the Gehlot and Pilot camps, during which the Rajasthan chief minister made serious allegations against Pilot accusing him of hobnobbing with BJP, it is very difficult to believe that this truce will last long.
Gehlot even made personal and insulting remarks like nikamma and nakaara against Pilot.
Pilot was stripped of the posts of deputy chief minister and Rajasthan Pradesh Congress Committee president. Two of his supporters were also removed from the Gehlot Cabinet. A malicious campaign was also driven, allegedly by the Gehlot, camp to tarnish Pilot’s image.
No announcement of his re-instatement has been made yet. A new PCC chief has already been appointed. Memes have already started pouring in calling him a ‘paper tiger’. All this will not be easy for him to digest.
Considering these factors, it seems difficult that Sachin Pilot could be accommodated back into Rajasthan state politics.
The Congress may put him in a national role. Maybe,offer him the post of a party general secretary which will put him at similar level in the organisation as Priyanka Gandhi. He could even be tasked with reviving the party organisation in a region or cluster of states.
This appears to be the only feasible formula that might work: Gehlot in the state and Pilot at the ‘center’.
This way, Gehlot gets a chance to complete his last five-year-term as chief minister. He will be 72 years of age in 2023 and 77 by 2028.
Sachin Pilot could also have bargained for being made the chief ministerial candidate or the face of the party for the 2023 state elections. Gehlot may not oppose this. He knows that in Rajasthan, which has a 30-year, ‘revolving-door’ history, governments keep alternating between the Congress and the BJP.
Going by this history, the Congress could lose the state in 2023. Pilot’s wish to become the chief minister may only be fulfilled in 2028 when he attains the age of 50 and the Congress makes a comeback.
This is why Pilot perhaps pushed (long wait of 8 years) his luck and hoped that in the aftermath of the Scindia episode the High Command would agree to his demands to save another state government from falling.
But with Sonia at the helm, his impatience wasn’t appreciated. Perhaps, he pushed his luck a bit too much.