Sachin Pilot’s next move: Will he, won’t he?

It seems easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, than for politicians to reach a compromise in Rajasthan 

sachin pilot

The one person who perhaps is being watched as much as Sachin Pilot in wake of the political turmoil in Rajasthan, is not a partyman of the Congress. It is ‘Public servant, cricket enthusiast’ Jyotiraditya M. Scindia, who left the Congress Party where he had followed the footsteps of his father Madhavrao Scindia, to join the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) where his paternal aunts are prominent faces had said, “Sad to see my erstwhile colleague, @SachinPilot too, being sidelined and persecuted by Rajasthan CM, @ashokgehlot51 . Shows that talent and capability find little credence in the @INCIndia .”



A loaded comment that added fuel to the embers of political gossip that Sachin Pilot, who had stepped into the shoes of his father Congress leader Rajesh Pilot, may quit the party and join the BJP like Scindia did, or even float his own political outfit. Even Congressmen like PL Punia added to the speculation, and said that “Sachin Pilot is now in the BJP”, however he later called it a ‘slip of the tongue’. 



With many a slip between the cup and the lip, Rajasthan’s political saga continues to blow hotter than the summer winds from the desert state. And it is far from over, in the latest move after an action packed weekend, the Congress party has publicly appealed to Sachin Pilot to stay on. Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala told the media on Monday that a number of talks had been initiated with Pilot. And said that the Congress’ doors are always open to Sachin Pilot and any other member, so that solutions can be found within the ‘family’. He is quoted as saying, “If anyone, be it at any post or profile, has any problem, they must come forward and mention the issue on the party forum. We will work to resolve it together and keep our government intact in the state.” 

In the past 48 hours, and counting, the Congress leadership is said to have spoken and discussed with Sachin Pilot to find a middle path to solve the current political crisis that threatens to destabilise the Rajasthan government and embarrass the Congress party at large. Therefore the Congress has fielded its spokesperson, Permanent Invitee Member, Congress Working Committee Randeep Singh Surjewala to make an emotional appeal to Sachin Pilot and his supporters. Gentle persuasive appeals full of respectful honorifics were shared, “We are talking to Sachin Pilot who is the Congress Pradesh Committee head along with being the Deputy Chief Minister. We have appealed to the Congress MLAs that the Congress led Rajasthan government has been elected to serve the people. There can be personal differences, but Rajasthan is bigger than any  personal differences…” he said adding that he accepted that there were differences of opinion. But even then it was not appropriate to “weaken your own party’s government or give the BJP an opportunity to horse trade”.

As the Congress likes to project itself as a large ‘family’ the leadership has also appealed that its problems should be solved while staying in the family fold. “If one wants to break away from the family, then the consequences are not good either for the individual not for the family,” said Surjewala. He also stated over social media, that the BJP was making the most of the situation, “The whole country is plagued by Corona, the infection has increased to 29,000 per day, China has captured our land, and the ruling is busy buying MLAs first in Madhya Pradesh and now in Rajasthan.”

While the fire fighting was on, there was another crisis brewing in Rajasthan as two of Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot’s aides were raided by the Income Tax department on Monday morning. According to a report on NDTV, “Rajiv Arora, vice president of the party’s Rajasthan unit, and Dharmendra Rathore were raided hours after the ruling Congress denied any threat to its government in a late-night press briefing.” Five premises linked to the two leaders were raided in Jaipur and Kota over allegations of “tax evasion”, reported NDTV. 

Surjewala reacted sharply with a jibe at the BJP over the raids and said, “I-T (Income Tax Department), ED (Enforcement Directorate), and the CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) are the BJP’s frontal departments… their raids cannot topple Rajasthan government.” He added that after the Income Tax Department raids, ED may not be far behind, “When will ED arrive?” 



“Instead of toppling democratically elected governments, the BJP should focus on bringing India out of the trenches of the COVID war,” said the Congress .



According to a report in the Hindustan Times, in the ongoing political tussle in Rajasthan, a close aide of Pilot told HT that the deputy chief minister is unlikely to join the Bharatiya Janata Party. Pilot had raised concerns about chief minister Gehlot style of functioning and said he was not heard. Sachin Pilot’s alleged revolt, or even a hint at one has set the party up for shaky days ahead.

According to NDTV, the Rajasthan Congress at a press conference on Monday where it said that 109 MLAs in the 200-member state assembly have expressed their trust in Gehlot’s government. Sachin Pilot had earlier been questioned inconnection with an alleged attempt to destabilise the state government ahead of the Rajya Sabha elections, stated NDTV. “Nobody wants to leave his home, but can’t continue to put up with this kind of humiliation; my MLAs and supporters are extremely hurt and I will have to listen to them,” Sachin Pilot told senior journalist and political analyst Javed Ansari on Sunday. On his part the Chief Minister Gehlot had said he too had been summoned via a notice by the Rajasthan Police’s Special Operation Group (SOG) to record statements in connection with the arrest of two BJP leaders for their alleged attempt to topple the Congress government. As reported in The Print, Sachin Pilot believes that the notices were meant to target him. 

According to a report in The Print even Priyanka Gandhi has made a phone call to Sachin Pilot on Sunday night to discuss the situation. However, the report added that according to their sources, Pilot has told Gandhi that “he wants his due and that he has waited a long time for it.”

According to news reports Congress has 107 MLAs in Rajasthan Assembly and the government is supported by 10 Independent MLAs, and two each from the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and the Bharatiya Tribal Party. The BJP has 72 seats in the 200-member Assembly. Around 30 Congress MLAs and some independent legislators are said to be standing in support of Sachin Pilot. The half-way mark is 101. CM Ashok Gehlot has claimed the support of 106 MLAs. The BJP has 72 + 3 MLAs from Hanuman Beniwal’s Rashtriya Loktantrik Party. Three independent MLAs are under the radar of the Anti Corruption Branch; they are not supporting the Congress anymore, reported NDTV.

This saga is far from over, and at this point it seems easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, than for political leaders to reach a compromise in Rajasthan. 



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