Tue, 27 Sep 2022 03:54 PM IST
THE feud between senior Congress leader and Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and his former deputy Sachin Pilot has escalated again and there is no end in sight for the bitter infighting. This time the trigger was Gehlot's alleged attempt to choose his successor while he looks to contest the Congress presidential polls.
Over 90 MLAs of Gehlot camp reportedly tendered their resignation to Speaker CP Joshi on Monday as they opposed a likely elevation of Sachin Pilot to the post of chief minister. The reports of the resignations further fuelled speculations regarding imposition of President's Rule in the state.
The political crisis in Rajasthan has earned the 71-year-old leader the disapproval of party high command despite Gehlot being one of the favourites of the Gandhis. The internal rift has returned to limelight as Congress attempts to regain its old stature with Rahul Gandhi canvassing the country under the 'Bharat Jodo Yatra'.
Gehlot Vs Pilot
The political tussle between Gehlot and Pilot is not new. It has been simmering for years and keeps boiling over time and again. The two leaders and their supporters had an ugly standoff in 2020, the roots of which lie in Congress' decision to overlook Pilot in Rajasthan to appoint Gehlot as the Chief Minister in 2018.
Pilot was a key player in reviving the Congress party in Rajasthan, a role assigned to him in 2013 after Assembly poll loss. Later, in 2016, Gehlot was named in the screening committee for the 2016 Punjab elections and was made a general secretary in Delhi in 2017.
After the 2018 state assembly elections, Pilot and 18 other Congress MLAs skipped legislative party meetings making their resentment public. Later on, he also hit out at the government over law and order in the state and over the death of 107 children in Kota hospital.
The tensions between the two leaders peaked in July 2020, when Sachin Pilot was served notices by Rajasthan police over allegations of attempting to topple the Gehlot government. Later in the month, Pilot staged a rebellion as he and 18 MLAs, who supported him, refused to attend crucial meetings called by Gehlot and camped in a hotel in Manesar.
It led to high drama as Gehlot camp also moved to hotels in Jaipur and then Jaisalmer in order to prevent anyone from switching sides. The faceoff, which had taken an unpleasant turn, also saw an angry Gehlot calling Pilot 'nikamma', 'nakara'.
The political drama culminated into the sacking of Sachin Pilot as the Rajasthan Deputy Chief Minister on July 14, 2022.
BJP Adopts Wait And Watch Policy
As the tussle between the two leaders reignites, BJP has adoped the wait and watch policy, and has not tried to meddle in the matter fearing a unified backlash from the warring Congress leaders. The saffron party, which has been keeping an eye on the situation, is waiting for Speaker CP Joshi's next move, after which it may knock the door of Raj Bhavan.
Meanwhile, BJP state president Satish Poonia has left for Delhi to attend a programme. However, there are chances that Rajasthan politics might be discussed with senior leaders. Deputy Leader of Opposition of the Legislative Assembly Rajendra Rathore has said that when 90 per cent of the MLAs and ministers of the government have already resigned, the Chief Minister should call an emergency meeting and announce the dissolution of the Assembly.
Speaking on former deputy CM Pilot, he said, "BJP's door is not closed for Sachin Pilot. The final decision on this will be taken by the party high command. If such a situation arises, then the party high command will take a decision on it."
Meanwhile deputy leader of opposition Rajendra Rathore said, "The ball is still in the Speaker's court. The day the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly will accept those resignations according to his duty, then the BJP will proceed to take any decision. Before this, we have been watching this endless game of Congress."
(With inputs from agencies)