The political crisis in Rajasthan that went on for nearly a month appears to have been averted after a “frank, open and conclusive” chat between the young leaders of Congress. Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi met former deputy chief minister of Rajasthan Sachin Pilot in Delhi to amicably settle the issue possibly by allaying the concerns of Pilot who said that his was a fight for principles. The rapprochement could only be achieved by the young Gandhis who have a big task at hand for Congress’ future and their journey would be incomplete without long-time associates of their own generation. Senior party colleagues have also welcomed back Pilot into the camp and have expressed satisfaction at the handling of the issue by Rahul and Priyanka while also acknowledging the “political instincts” of Gehlot. After the meeting, Pilot and his loyal MLAs are likely to vote favourably in case of a trust vote in Friday’s Assembly session as the party expressed confidence in Sachin “who has committed to working in interest of Congress and the government in Rajasthan”. The reconciliation comes as a welcome step for Congress which had feared losing another State to the machinations of the BJP.
While Rahul and Priyanka have won Sachin back, the rift between Pilot and Ashok Gehlot appears to be far from over. A long-term resolution but not just a short-term patch up is needed. A three-member panel has been set up by Congress President Sonia Gandhi to address the issues raised by Sachin Pilot and the aggrieved MLAs. Pilot is said to have demanded he be reinstated as the state party chief and made Chief Minister of the state in the last year of the current government’s term. It is still unclear if Rahul and Priyanka or the party’s Central leadership have acquiesced to his demands but with majority of MLAs showing support to CM Ashok Gehlot this possibility seems unlikely. The CM is already unhappy with the developments and wants party leadership to adjust Pilot in Delhi and be kept away from State politics. The post of AICC general secretary has been suggested for Pilot but it doesn’t seem he is willing to accept this.
Although Ashok Gehlot has expressed his intention of meeting 18 rebel MLAs to listen to their grievances he said nothing about sorting out differences with Pilot. Getting all MLAs to vote favourably in the Assembly session may be high on his agenda for now. A successful Assembly session for Rajasthan Congress may clear the decks for a truce between the two leaders. However, it is not an easy walk down the road for the two as much has been said and done in the past one month let alone their estranged relations over the first 18 months of their government. With Pilot rebelling with his loyal MLAs and Gehlot using abrasive language against Pilot calling him “nikamma” the two may not work together with the same conscience again. While Pilot can be faulted for the conflict, the senior leader too should accept some of the blame. The Chief Minister may have been right with his “political instincts” about a possible plot by the BJP with few Congress leaders to bring down his government but he could have handled the matters politically without bringing in the police to resolve their political differences.
With the current air between the two leaders, Ashok Gehlot has already suggested a role away from Rajasthan state for Pilot, but with Congress away from power at the Centre it may be difficult to fit Pilot somewhere on equitable terms. For now, it would be best desired for the two to work together towards fortifying Congress in Rajasthan and making it an ideal state in fighting the pandemic and putting the State economy back on track.