Video Editor: Mohd Ibrahim
Video Producer: Shohini Bose
As the coronavirus crisis and border tensions with China made headlines, a political crisis took shape in Rajasthan. What exactly transpired in the state?
The political crisis dates back to the Rajya Sabha polls. Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot accused the BJP of trying to steal MLAs from Congress. But, Gehlot managed to show the support of 123 MLAs.
Congress currently has 107 MLAs in the Rajasthan Assembly, along with the support of some independent candidates. Gehlot claimed several leaders were trying to dissolve the government.
Why is Sachin Pilot Miffed?
From the time the Rajasthan government was formed, Pilot was a contender for the chief minister's post. But, after settling for the post of deputy chief minister, Gehlot would not take him into confidence.
Add to it, Pilot felt that he should be the chief minister, resulting in differences of opinion and speculations. Somehow, the party high command managed to bring both of them on board but their partnership as CM and deputy was a mismatch from the outset, with differences emerging. However, this is not the first time that there has been a crisis within the government.
Gehlot Prevented Likely Coup by Getting Phones Tapped
There was a fresh ploy to dissolve the government. Two people were arrested after their phones were tapped. They were allegedly talking about horse trading of MLAs and how that could change the chief minister.
Gehlot took a risky preemptive step and filed a police case. Notices were sent to CM, deputy CM and some other top ministers, that the police’s Special Operations Group would probe them.
This did not go down well with Pilot, who felt he was being probed by his own party. But, Gehlot had his script ready. He went and explained to the party high command that BJP was trying to dissolve the government and that they must probe who was involved. He even said that he was ready to leave the post of CM if the party thought so.
Party high command stayed silent over the issue but in a way backed Gehlot and assured him that he could take steps he felt were right.
Pilot was not prepared for this. Perhaps, he was in talks with BJP. But before the MLAs met at Gehlot's residence, Pilot made it clear that he wasn't joining the BJP.
Where is BJP in This Picture?
Perhaps, unlike Madhya Pradesh, the Rajasthan script isn't so clear for BJP. BJP must have realised that if there is infighting and the government dissolves, it has nothing to lose.
So, they let Pilot make his move. But it seems unlikely that there have been any talks about the CM’s post. Perhaps, BJP tried to convince Pilot but it wasn’t fruitful.
Pilot believes that he deserves the post of CM because he worked very hard to ensure that Congress won the state elections. But the MLAs were with Gehlot. Congress had back then said that political decisions can't be made on the basis of personal opinions.
Congress must have told Gehlot that since he has the numbers, he should prove his majority and handle Pilot. Since Pilot does not have the numbers, BJP is perhaps staying away.
I-T Raids an Insult to Gehlot's Injury?
While the MLAs met at Gehlot's residence, there were I-T raids at the residences of those who were considered close to Gehlot. Congress might have realised that the I-T raids were conducted to threaten the party but they still have the numbers. But, it is still a big challenge ahead of Gehlot to save the party and the government.
Should Pilot go back to his party and talk it out? Because Congress has said that, it is a message from Sonia Gandhi, that Pilot can come back and resolve the issues. He has said that he's not joining BJP.
So, the question here is, is there going to be a new regional party? Will he start afresh with a regional party. That will be a long war for him.
Now that he has been removed as the deputy CM, it will take us some time to guess what his short and long-term plans are.
Why is BJP Not Playing This Game on Front Foot?
Perhaps because BJP realises that the Rajasthan game is not in their favour yet, like the Madhya Pradesh scenario was. Plus, they don't have the numbers. In fact, the Maharashtra numbers are far worse for the BJP. Dissolving Maharashtra or Rajasthan governments could be BJP's plan but if Pilot does not benefit, why would he join BJP?
BJP has, so far, never made a newcomer a chief minister. Plus, BJP already has former Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje, and is trying to build Gajendra Singh Shekhawat as a key player. Thus, BJP would not make a newcomer a chief minister just because it wants to dissolve the Congress government.
BJP does not play such a short-term game. BJP loves a game where it can checkmate its opponent. In Rajasthan, they’re yet to arrive at such a stage.
We have to keep a close watch on the political crisis that has gripped Rajasthan. Pilot and Gehlot are both big players. Gehlot is an experienced old guard. Pilot seems to be taking an emotional decision.
Will there be reconciliation? Will a new party be floated? Will BJP start talks afresh? We have to wait and watch every move because, as they say, there is no deadline in a political calendar.
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