Rajasthan Political Crisis: Sachin Pilot ready for life after Congress
PTI

The Congress government in Rajasthan is in tatters: it has been reduced to a minority. The inevitable happened with the party sacking renegade Sachin Pilot from all posts after he rebuffed reconciliation moves and deleted all references to the Congress on his Twitter handle. Now, he is prepared for life without the Congress, ahead of his removal from the party.

His recalcitrance has inflicted a fatal wound on the Congress dispensation led by Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and it is a matter of time before the government collapses.

At least 15 to 20 MLAs are expected to quit the Congress along with him and the rival BJP has asked its vice-president Om Prakash Mathur to rush to Jaipur to meet the Governor and press for a floor test.

The Congress tried to avoid the eventuality by holding back the formal removal of Pilot and his supporters from the party. But Pilot, by removing all references to the party in his bio on the Twitter handle, describing himself as an "MLA from Tonk, foreclosed all possibilities of a reconciliation.

His rather profound response to his removal from the twin posts – that of Deputy Chief Minister and PCC chief -- was: "Truth can be harassed, but it can't be defeated."Moments after Pilot was removed from the posts, his camp voiced its disappointment, stating that Pilot "has never done anything against the party or spoken against it."

The Congress sources said his removal from the posts was his own undoing as he had refused to air his grievances on the party platform. The Congress said it had acted against the young leader with a “heavy heart,” after he remained unmoved despite several invitations to discuss differences within the party forum, even as the threat of disciplinary action loomed over him.After a second meeting of the Congress Legislature Party (CLP) on Tuesday at the Fairmont Hotel on the outskirts of Jaipur, where the MLAs stayed overnight, CM Gehlot met the Governor, asking him to sack Pilot and two of his supporters from the state cabinet.

Gehlot also sought time from the Governor for induction of some ministers on Wednesday, as an attempt to placate those left with him, to ensure they don't desert him and join Pilot.

The Congress leadership discussed the possibility of invoking the anti-defection law to disqualify Pilot and the MLAs in his camp to enable Gehlot to escape the ignominy of a failed floor test in the Assembly, but legal experts in the party said this is not possible at the moment, as they had done nothing that can attract the charge of defection.Congress President Sonia Gandhi had continuous consultations with the Congress Working Committee (CWC) members on how to avert the collapse of the government. The leadership even discussed placating Pilot by conceding some of his demands, but the party was unable to access Pilot who had become incommunicado after the last-ditch effort by Priyanka to dissuade him.

There were hectic political developments both in Delhi, where Pilot is camping, and in Jaipur, with fresh appeals to him for reconciliation, but he refused and abstained from the CLP meeting for the second time, sending a clear message that his differences with the Chief Minister had reached a point of no return.Congress chief spokesman Randeep Singh Surjewala, who is in Jaipur since Sunday to tackle the crisis, said Pilot had been unfortunately sucked into a "deep-rooted" conspiracy against the Gehlot Government.

A WhatsApp message circulated by his crony MLAs noted that "our leader was threatened with notices from the Special Operation Group (SOG) under the charges of sedition and criminal conspiracy." They insisted that their leader was humiliated by the Chief Minister, though he was fighting only to protect their dignity.Differences between Gehlot and Pilot were simmering from day one after the Assembly polls in December 2018, when Pilot was denied the chief ministership that he wanted as a prize for toiling to defeat the BJP government in the state.

The differences kept widening as Gehlot would not brook any interference by Pilot in the governance, despite him being the deputy CM.

CONG'S ANGST

The affection, blessings, cooperation and political support that Sachin was given at a young age has probably not been given to anyone in the country. He joined politics in 2003 and was made an MP at 26. He was hardly 32 when he was made a minister in the Union Cabinet. He was made PCC chief at the age of 36 and deputy chief minister at 40. He was encouraged a lot in the short span of 17-18 years from 2003 to 2020. This means that he had the personal affection and blessings of Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi -- RANDEEP SURJEWALA

WHAT NEXT

What will be Pilot’s next step remains to be seen. He could join the BJP or float his own party. But if one takes into consideration Pilot’s career span and growth, it cannot be denied that his next destination will definitely not provide him similar affection.

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