The drama that has lasted all week in Rajasthan over infighting in the Ashok Gehlot-led Congress party has finally come to an end, with rebel deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot and Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot arriving at a compromise.
Until a few hours back, it appeared that Pilot, much like Jyotiraditya Scindia did on Holi this year, would leave the Congress and join the BJP. While Pilot denied that he would be joining the BJP, there were reports that he would form his own party – the Pragatisheel Congress, become CM of Rajasthan by showing numbers, and getting outside support from the BJP.
None of these events happened, although rumours of Plot and his loyalists meeting the BJP top brass in Delhi was circulating. Gehlot, for his part, did not appear frazzled and his show of strength on Monday afternoon showed that the Congress-led Rajasthan government will continue until its term ends.
The Rajasthan Congress is of course upset with Pilot’s coup, and this was evident with the party taking out posters featuring him from its office. This comes after senior party leader Randeep Surjewala on Monday said that Congress Government is stable in the state and will complete the full term. He also claimed that over the last 48 hours, Congress leadership has spoken to Sachin Pilot a number of times about the present political situation in the state.
But why did Pilot not get what he wanted? Veteran journalist Radhika Bordia, who has extensively covered politics in the state, explained in a detailed Twitter thread that despite Pilot’s hard work, Gehlot still has the people’s mandate. “Sachin gets undue media attention largely due to his 'journalist' friends & due to our collective 'young blood', 'young turks' obsession. I've seen up close how Sachin's equation with editors, reporters & anchors works but managing the media isn't the same as managing the state,” she said.
Bordia added that Pilot has been playing disruptive politics in the state for a while. “Political reporters in Jaipur will tell you his hobnobbing with the BJP goes back months. It's a pity really. What is clear, though, is that both Gehlot and Pilot are being true to the Congress' tradition of in-fighting. Reporters of my generation still get hackishly nostalgic about the days when Digvijaya Singh, Madhavrao Scindia, Kamal Nath would spill the dirt on each other.”
If this is indeed the case, it's up to the party high-command to seriously look into this issue and for the sake of the nation, put the party ahead of themselves.
However, one thing is for certain: there is going to be an uprising within the Congress party sooner rather than later. Who will be part of this rebellion is anyone’s guess, but whether there will be a ‘Naya Congress’ or ‘Purana Congress’ will see an interesting political dynamic in India.