Congress leader Sachin Pilot with then Congress President Rahul Gandhi
Congress leader Sachin Pilot with then Congress President Rahul Gandhi
PTI

The bitter power struggle in Rajasthan has now reached the street level, with Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot taking recourse to foul language to taint his ambitious rival, Sachin Pilot. Calling someone who till only a couple of days ago was your number two nikamma and nakara (useless and worthless), in fact, shows Gehlot in very poor light. Whatever the differences, gentlemen are not expected to resort to such imprecations. Gehlot told journalists that as the Pradesh Congress Chief Pilot used to say that he had not come to Rajasthan to sell baigan but to become chief minister. In fact, as the number one citizen of the State, Gehlot is expected to set an example of model public conduct. Venting his growing frustration against his challenger, Gehlot has exposed his own lack of civility and good manners. Faulting Pilot for his proficiency in English and Hindi and his youthful looks is of a piece with the nikkama-nakara streak Gehlot is increasingly displaying even as his desperate effort to neutralise Pilot’s bid for the high office shows little sign of success. On Tuesday, the Rajasthan High Court heard Pilot’s counsel accuse the Assembly Speaker, C P Joshi, of not applying his mind while sending show-cause notices to him and 18 other MLAs. In any case, absence from a meeting of the Congress Legislative Party does not attract the mischief of the anti-defection law Joshi has relied on to show-cause the rebels. The court proceedings are likely to continue for a couple of days more before the legality or otherwise of Joshi’s notices is pronounced on. Depending on the outcome, the losing party approaching the Supreme Court cannot be ruled out. Gehlot’s attempt to summarily disqualify the rebels is therefore set to fail. In such a situation, he cannot be one hundred percent certain of establishing majority. Though on paper he enjoys a slight advantage, but given the fickle nature of the floating MLAs belonging to the smaller groups and Independents, they may still spring a surprise at the last minute, especially because no whip applies to them. As for the rebels, they certainly stand to forfeit their membership should they vote against the government, but doing so, they would have achieved their objective of dislodging Gehlot from power. The Centre may step in here since no party would be in a position to form a stable government. After a short stint of central rule during which the by-elections from the erstwhile constituencies of the rebels would be held, a clearer picture might emerge. Meanwhile, the bloodletting in Rajasthan spotlights the increasing irrelevance of the Gandhis even in regard to the internal affairs of the party. Having lost all moral authority, they can continue their Twitter politics and take the once mighty Congress Party down with them.

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