While addressing the press on Wednesday, 02 November 2022, Sachin Pilot suggested that the political wave in Rajasthan might take an interesting turn. Taking a dig at the incumbent chief minister of Rajasthan, Ashok Gehlot, the ex-deputy cm said, ‘PM Modi praised Ghulam Nabi Azad in Parliament, and now he has praised the incumbent Rajasthan CM. We all know what’s gonna happen next!’
Pilot also urged the newly elected Congress president Kharge to take action against those leaders who chose to have a parallel meeting on 25 September when the CLP meeting was scheduled. The accused leaders come from the inner circle of incumbent chief minister Ashok Gehlot, including Shanti Dhariwal and Mahesh Joshi, both sitting ministers.
After Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan is the second state where caste politics plays the most crucial role during elections. As the state is set to go into polling at the end of 2023, Congress is busy fighting within itself rather than facing the predecessor BJP. The mood of voters in Rajasthan has always been predictable, however, this time, the paradigm shift could occur in the desert state under certain circumstances.
Action on Gehlot Supporters, Beneficial For Pilot
In his news brief, Sachin Pilot said that the All India Congress Committee would take action against the rebelling MLAs. This includes the closest supporters of Gehlot, who are said to be colluding against Sachin Pilot as the new CM face of Rajasthan. The internal tussle between Pilot and Gehlot is known to all, damaging INC for years. Though this action, if taken against Gehlot loyalists, might benefit Pilot in the long run.
What did PM Modi say while praising CM Gehlot?
Sharing the stage with three chief ministers Ashok Gehlot, Shivraj Singh Chouhan, and Bhupendra Patel, Prime Minister praised the experience of Gehlot. He mentioned that he had worked with Gehlot as chief minister, and he was the most senior leader even then, with a lot of experience. It is said that both senior leaders had a private meeting for 10 minutes after the rally. Either of the leaders hasn’t disclosed the meeting summary. The reference here given by Sachin Pilot was accurate as after PM Modi praised senior ex-congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad, he left the grand old party for his betterment. Now the question arises, will the same happen in Rajasthan?
Will Gehlot leave Congress? The internal tussle of five years
The speculation sparked of Gehlot leaving Congress seems laughable to anyone familiar with Rajasthan and its political play. However, the staunch Shiv Sainik Eknath Shinde shocked the political world by going against the party he worked his life for, anything seemed possible. Leaving the rumors aside, Rajasthan Congress has been facing an internal tussle for the past few years, ‘Yuva Josh’ VS ‘Tajurba’. The dynamic Gujjar leader Sachin Pilot had set his eyes on the throne of Rajasthan while canvassing through the desert state. However, the high command chose to go with the safe yet effective option of OBC leader Ashok Gehlot in 2018.
The tussle within the party leaves very little for the opposition to attack, as the ruling party in the state is already divided into two fractions. The party leaders have done everything from rebelling and plotting against their leader to removing Pilot from the deputy CM post out of spite.
Gehlot VS Pilot or maybe ‘Sarabhai VS Sarabhai’
As the election season approach in Rajasthan, both the Sarabhai’s are busy garnering the support of their loyalists. While Pilot’s loyalists MLAs are busy strengthening their base vote bank of ‘Gujjars’, Gehlot is trying to woo the upper caste vote bank. However, the anti-Hindu portrayal of the current chief minister after the negligence of the Lumpy virus and the destruction of Shree Salasar Balaji gate might affect his vote share. Castes have a heavy sway on polling as the Gujjars control over 50-60 seats out of 200 in the state, who somewhere have a soft corner for Sachin Pilot, the ex-deputy CM of Rajasthan.
The tussle within Congress is so damaging that it reflected poorly on the low-level elections of student unions. NSUI suffered a lot earlier this year as their supporters were divided into Gehlot VS Pilot. As a result of this tussle, ABVP, SFI, and several independent candidates benefited.
Together we stand, apart, we fall. Will Congress be able to forgo their differences and fight as one? Or will BJP be back in action?