It would look like a long impasse is finally at an end and Sachin Pilot has agreed to return to the fold. The month-long farce began on July 12 when former Deputy CM Sachin Pilot flew to Delhi, miffed at sedition charges filed against him by the Rajasthan Police, which he believed was done at his rival Ashok Gehlot’s duress.
What followed was a long-drawn out mockery of Indian democracy which saw Rajasthan MLAs live it up in a resort.
Amid a coronavirus crisis that has brought the nation to a halt, MLAs who should have been out there tackling the situation, have been living it up, listening to music, singing antakshari, learning how to make omelettes and watching Mughal-e-Azam.
Meanwhile, Gehlot has gone to town on his younger rival, hadn’t made any personal barbs even as the senior politician labelled him a nikamma.
Yet the drama finally seems to be at its end after Pilot ostensibly met the Gandhis. A report in NDTV stated: “The terms for Sachin Pilot's "homecoming" along with 18 other rebels were discussed at a meeting at Rahul Gandhi's home, say sources.”
The long-drawn battle saw Sachin Pilot sacked as Deputy CM along with two cabinet ministers who backed him. The Rajasthan Congress also passed a resolution to disqualify the dissenters. The BSP – whose six MLAs were assimilated into Congress – cried foul and challenged the merger in Rajasthan HC.
So why did Pilot finally relent?
For starters it’s the numbers. Unlike Scindia, Pilot only had the support of 19 Congress MLAs and three independents.
These were never enough to ensure the government would fall.
With an assembly session looming on August 14, there was also no clarity on whether the BSP conundrum would be solved.
While there won’t be any changes in the leadership in the Congress, Pilot would also have been worried about the Gehlot’s outreach to Vasundhara Raje and BJP.
Raje stayed quiet during the rebellion and later called it a ‘rebellion that’s hurting Rajasthan’. Raje’s message was loud and clear, you are not welcome here. Without Raje’s acquiesce, any sort of support from BJP was out of the question.
While much has always been made of Pilot’s caste-cross appeal, it’s a fact that he’s new to grassroots-level politics.
He became PCC chief in 2014, and his forays were limited to Dausa and Ajmer. As an older FPJ copy noted: “Many within the Congress say that Pilot made the mistake of confusing the crowds that he met as he travelled across the state to be his supporters, whereas they were there for the state president.”
This was in start contrast to Scindia, whose personal clout transcended caste and his people were more loyal to him. On the other hand, only a few Rajasthan MLAs owned their political innings to him.
The likes of Brijendra Ola, Hemaram Choudhary, Dependra Singh, Harish Meena, Bhanwarlal Sharma were senior leaders who were simply disgruntled at not becoming ministers.
Finally, Pilot’s appeal might be overplayed compared to what we see in TV studios.
As veteran Rajasthan watcher and FPJ’s Sangeeta Pranvendra noted; “Politics is about taking decisions as per situation and more importantly keeping communication channels open. Pilot took off and lost all radio contact with base; in this case with his party, the Congress. He started losing supporters and his party started losing patience with him.
The cookie had actually started to crumble after the Rajya Sabha elections and SOG complaint. Pilot simply could not gain BJP’s confidence to deliver. He gave Gehlot too much time to do damage control. What ensued was a battle that pitched a ‘young’ 43-year-old against a man who has almost 43 years of political experience.
In the end there'd be only one outcome. As an acerbic Ashok Gehlot later noted, there's more to politics than 'speaking good English, giving good bytes and being handsome'.
What is sauce for the goose in posh English media channels in Delhi-NCR, is not sauce for the gander in rustic Rajasthan. Sachin Pilot learned it the hard way.”