The can may well have been kicked down the road in Rajasthan but the vexed leadership issue remains wide open. Contrary to popular perception, former Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot, who camped in Gurugram these past few days, has not beaten a hasty retreat.
Optically, he may have lost the skirmish, but he is very much in the game. This was a battle in a long drawn-out war. A war based on principles and one of anger over maltreatment.
Sources close to developments said that his meeting with the Gandhi siblings – Rahul and Priyanka – at the former’s residence was one where he did not merely reveal his state of mind and reservations but was equally given cast iron assurances about the future.
Pilot, it is believed, didn’t hanker for any position but told them that belittling him by levelling charges of sedition was nothing short of outrageous. The Special Operations Group and Anti-Corruption Bureau charges were a travesty and he was pained and appalled at the charges levelled against him.
Pilot did not want to be a Deputy CM with a car and a bungalow for he had worked hard on the ground over the last six and a half years to help the Congress storm back to power in the state in the late 2018 election. To be viciously targeted by his own government was an abomination, according to him.
Apparently, he was given a fair hearing and while a decision on the party leadership in Rajasthan may have been kept in abeyance for the time being, a view will be definitely taken on this issue in early 2021. This assurance was given to him.
What is more is that Pilot has managed to get a fair and equitable settlement for all his followers, particularly those who camped with him in the last few days when they went underground. In a mockery of democracy, these MLAs were spied upon by the state CID which kept them under daily surveillance under Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot’s orders. This was intolerable for Pilot.
These things rankled with Pilot and while he was adamant that he won’t join the BJP from the outset, he was clear that he would stay with the Congress. All he wanted was a proper hearing and a just recourse to the problems and issues that he and his followers were facing in Rajasthan.
The Gandhi siblings have also come to realise that their footprint continues to shrink with the BJP trying to topple their state governments, the most recent case being Madhya Pradesh.
They didn’t want the BJP to take advantage of the fluid situation and hence sought closure. Once Pilot had given his side of the story, it was appreciated by the siblings.
It is clear that the Congress will want to hit the ground running with a young Pilot at the helm in the race for the state in 2023. It appears that Pilot may well become Chief Minister of Rajasthan in early 2021 to prepare for the battle in late 2023.
Sachin Pilot, who returned to the state on Tuesday ahead of the crucial Assembly session from August 14 after reaching an understanding with the top Congress leadership, said that he was “quite hurt” with the statements made against him since the crisis erupted.
“The kind of words used against me left me quite hurt,” he said at a press conference here.
Pilot, who was also the state Congress chief but was removed after his rebellion, also said that he had not demanded any post from the party.
He stressed that he never made any statement against the party and in fact, went to Delhi to discuss issues with the Congress high command.
“I never ever demanded any post from the party. However, the kind of words used against me left me sad and shocked,” he said, adding that there should not be any space for any “vendetta politics”.
He also termed as “unjustified” the SOG notice, with sedition charges, which was sent to him, adding that he wanted to narrate the entire episode of the SOG and the ACB to the party leadership. “The suspension orders, police case and all such episodes were not all positive,” he added.
“We simply wanted to present our issues to the party high command and never had any intentions to go against the party,” he maintained.
“We never gave any statement which was anti-party,” he added.
There was a huge gathering of supporters outside his residence to give a rousing welcome to the leader who preferred driving down to Jaipur from New Delhi in his car.
Indicating an end to the rebellion in the Congress’ Rajasthan unit, a meeting took place between Pilot and his loyalists and the three-member panel formed by interim party chief Sonia Gandhi to look into their grievances, at the war room in the Congress headquarters in New Delhi on Monday evening.
The breakthrough, which had threatened the Ashok Gehlot-led Congress government in the state, followed after Pilot met top party leaders Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi earlier on Monday. The two Gandhis subsequently held discussions with Sonia Gandhi, who in turn announced the formation of a three-member panel comprising Priyanka Gandhi, Ahmed Patel and K.C. Venugopal. (IANS)