Sachin Pilot’s launch of offensive on the Ashok Gehlot camp has given newly elected Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge the first major task to handle — resolving the power tussle in Rajasthan, which goes to polls next year.
In a recap of the events that led to the crisis in September, around 90 MLAs from the Gehlot camp skipped a CLP meeting and submitted their resignation to the Speaker as they protested the party high command’s intended move to appoint a new CM (apparently Pilot) without consulting them.
Gehlot was then seen as a frontrunner for the Congress president post and he would have to vacate the CM post for his bete noire Pilot, which he obviously did not want to. The rebellion escalated after Gehlot was clearly conveyed by the Gandhis that the party’s ‘one person, one post’ resolve will have to be followed by everyone.
The party leadership issued notices to three Gehlot loyalists without indicting the chief minister. Gehlot, after withdrawing from the run-up to the party chief post, made it clear that he was not going anywhere and this was evident from the billboards, road banners, and newspaper ads in the city released in October.
It has been over a month since Congress general secretary K C Venugopal’s promised to resolve the crisis in “one to two days”. This has prompted Pilot to set the ball rolling once again after him maintaining calm all this while.
On Wednesday, Pilot nudged his party to end the ‘state of indecision’ over the chief minister’s post and pushed for action against leaders involved in a show of strength for Gehlot in September.
What Pilot has apparently conveyed to the party high command is that Assembly polls are barely a year away and it is time to address the issue of CM now.
“We want him as the CM now, and not that Gehlot continues as CM till next year and Pilot is declared as CM face for 2023 polls. This doesn’t work,” a Pilot loyalist was quoted by The Indian Express as saying.
The Pilot camp has contended that a change of leadership in Rajasthan is imperative if the party is eyeing return to power.
For Kharge, it will be challenging to come up with a solution that not only resolve the issue of CM but also manages to keep the state unit intact. Sidelining Gehlot will certainly be easier said than done, given the support of MLAs he has.