Debacle in Rajasthan Congress – The Madhya Pradesh Way

Debacle in Rajasthan Congress – The Madhya Pradesh Way

The Congress government in Rajasthan is in crisis with deputy chief minister Sachin Pilot raising the banner of rebellion against chief minister Ashok Gehlot. The crisis is similar to Madhya Pradesh after the grand old party lost the government to the BJP after Jyotiraditya Scindia shifted allegiance along with his supporters following conflicts with chief minister Kamal Nath. The Rajasthan crisis, like Madhya Pradesh earlier, if anything, highlights the rising tensions between the old and new guard within congress.

The old-versus-young tussle — and their competing ambitions — has split the party in MP, and is now the most visible in Rajasthan. While Mr Gehlot should have been more consultative in his approach, and Mr Pilot more patient about his ambitions, the issue is not specific to a personality clash between the two leaders. It is, yet again, evidence of the inability of the Congress leadership in Delhi to provide guidance, take decisions, manage conflicts, and accommodate aspirations. Congress must be alarmed at its rapidly depleting political capital, its internal mismanagement, and the fury of some of its brightest, young political stars.

The war between Rajasthan chief minister (CM) Ashok Gehlot, and deputy CM and state Congress chief, Sachin Pilot, is now out in the open, threatening the survival of the Congress government in the state.

The roots of the power tussle?

Pilot was given charge of the Rajasthan Congress in January 2014 after it suffered one of its worst defeats under Gehlot. Pilot, those close to him say, believed his appointment marked a generational shift in the party, and that he would be CM if the party won again.

When the party won in 2017, Mr Pilot expected to be rewarded and made CM. But Mr Gehlot’s hold over the party organisation, and the desire of the party high command not to antagonise the “old guard” saw the CM post being awarded to Mr Gehlot.

The feud between Gehlot and Pilot escalated after the Congress high command gave Gehlot a third shot at chief ministership, with an eye on the Lok Sabha elections that were then round the corner. The two leaders have been at loggerheads since, and each has made comments against the other without taking his name on several occasions.

What will be the impact of this crisis?

The simmering Rajasthan CM Gehlot and his deputy Sachin Pilot reached a tripping point when pilot was summoned by the police on July 10, in connection with a probe into a suspected plot to destabilise the state government. The crisis will certainly undermine Pilot’s position. Sources close to him ask how he can remain in the government, that too as number two, when an FIR says that the “Deputy CM says that he will be the CM. The mutual distrust between Gehlot and Pilot will deepen. It is terrible optics for the party, too.

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Jyotiraditya Scindia on Sunday said that he was saddened by how his former party colleague Sachin Pilot was being sidelined by Congress. Scindia’s tweet comes amidst an escalating feud between Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and Deputy CM Sachin Pilot.

Taunting the Congress, he said there is no place for talented leaders in the Congress party. According to a PTI report, Pilot and MLAs supporting him have resolved that they cannot work under Ashok Gehlot’s chief ministership after a letter was served to ‘publicly discredit’ the PCC chief. The MLAs, referring to the SOG’s summons to Pilot in a case related to alleged attempts to bring down the Gehlot government, asserted that there had been internal problems earlier too but this letter has crossed all limits and such humiliation cannot be tolerated.

The tussle between Ashok Gehlot and Sachin Pilot began even before the Congress came to power in Rajasthan in December 2018 when Assembly elections were held. The feud came to the fore during candidate selection and escalated when the high command decided to give Gehlot a third shot at chief ministership. The two again crossed swords over portfolio distribution.

The feud came out in open six months later when Lok Sabha elections were held. Following a poor show, the Sachin Pilot camp alleged that Ashok Gehlot focused all his attention on the Jodhpur seat where his son was in the fray.

Before mulling over the recent changes in the status quo, it is imperative to note that the roots for trouble in Rajasthan's politics were laid even before Congress came to power after winning the crucial 2018 Assembly elections.

Veteran Congress leader Kapil Sibal could not supress his unhappiness towards Congress High Command and Tweeted;

@KapilSibal•22h

Worried for our party

Will we wake up only after the horses have bolted from our stables?

At a time when the country is combating the coronavirus pandemic, political crisis has erupted in Rajasthan. On Saturday, Rajasthan Chief Minister and Congress veteran Ashok Gehlot accused the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of trying to "topple" his government. In a press conference. In Jaipur, Ashok Gehlot said even though the state is battling Covid-19, BJP leaders in Rajasthan have "have gone beyond humanity" and are making attempts to topple his government.

However, the charges have been denied by the saffron party.

"Around 75 MLAs/ministers were present in the meeting on Sunday night at Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot's residence. Congress leaders Randeep Surjewala and Ajay Maken also met with Gehlot to chalk out a strategy for Monday’s Congress Legislative Party (CLP) meeting," Sources said.

With a political crisis threatening the Ashok-Gehlot government in Rajasthan, as many as 97 Congress MLAs arrived at the chief minister’s residence for a legislative party meeting in Jaipur on Monday. The party had issued a whip to all its MLAs, mandating everyone’s presence in the meeting.

A message on Pilot’s official media WhatsApp group read, “Rajasthan Deputy CM &

Congress leader Sachin Pilot not to attend Legislative Party meeting scheduled to be held tomorrow (Monday). Pilot says Ashok Gehlot is Govt in a minority after over 30 Congress and some independent MLAs have pledged support to Sachin Pilot.”

About his plan to join BJP he told, "Not Going to BJP"

Sources close to Sachin Pilot said that the deputy CM may float his own party as he is not going to join BJP, according to CNN-News18 report. The party is likely to be named 'Pragatisheel Congress' and a formal announcement will be issued after the CLP meeting, the report added.