Rajasthan: Congress internal crisis resurfaces; Pilot unhappy with high command
The internal political crisis within the ruling Congress party in Rajasthan has once again come to the fore. Ex-Deputy CM Sachin Pilot has revealed that the concerns he raised last year against CM Ashok Gehlot haven't yet been addressed by the concerned panel constituted by the Congress high command. He expressed dissatisfaction with the Congress panel as it failed to deliver on its promises.
"It has now been 10 months. I was given to understand that there would be swift action by the committee, but now half of the term is done, and those issues haven't been resolved," Pilot was quoted saying by Hindustan Times. Tensions between Pilot and Gehlot factions once again began simmering reportedly after Gudamalani MLA Hemaram Chaudhary—a key supporter of Pilot—resigned last month.
Pilot said Congress failed to keep up promises it made last year, which effectively ended the stalemate threatening the Gehlot government's stability when he and 18 MLAs—who staged a rebellion against Gehlot—returned to Congress after a one-month-long drama. "It is unfortunate...so many of the party workers who worked and gave their all for getting us the mandate are not being heard," he said.
In July 2020, Pilot and 18 of his loyalists revolted against Gehlot, left Jaipur, and camped in Haryana after Pilot was summoned for attempting to topple the government. Pilot was also sacked as the Deputy CM and Rajasthan Congress chief. However, he returned to Congress after Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra intervened and constituted General Secretary Ajay Maken-led panel to address his concerns.
It has been nearly a year, but the Congress high command seems to be in a dilemma over a solution to the internal political turmoil that is acceptable to both Gehlot and Pilot factions. "It is not the right time for me to speak," Maken told Hindustan Times. "However, there are vacancies in the Rajasthan government...they are likely to be filled soon," he added.
A Congress leader on condition of anonymity told Hindustan Times, party veteran Ahmed Patel's death led to the delay in addressing Pilot's concerns as he was the "crisis manager working out the details of Pilot's return." He, however, added the January reorganization of Congress's Rajasthan unit accommodated many Pilot supporters - three of them were appointed General Secretaries while one was named the Vice-President.
The Congress high command is reportedly looking to reshuffle the Rajasthan Cabinet. However, this may not resolve the crisis. There are nine vacancies in the Cabinet—naturally, Pilot would want more of his supporters in the Cabinet, but Gehlot is leaning toward accommodating independent MLAs and former Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) legislators who supported him and saved his government in the floor test last year.
Speaking on a suitable solution to the Rajasthan Congress's internal rift, political commentator Sanjeev Srivastava told Hindustan Times, "The only way to sort things out will be...genuine commitment of both of them (Gehlot and Pilot) to work with each other, which is easier said than done." He added, "These exercises of cabinet reshuffle will be cosmetic and...end up creating more problems for both camps."