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Sunday, June 11, 2023

Congress old guard cuts ambitious Pilot to size

Did Sachin Pilot bite more than he could chew or did he fall into the trap of seasoned veteran Ashok Gehlot? Well, his nemesis was a combination of both and it is surprising that it took almost 18 months coming as the young turk and the wily old fox Gehlot enjoyed a very uneasy relationship.

Pilot had been eyeing the CM’s chair from the time the party came back to power in Rajasthan but Gehlot’s proximity to Sonia and the latter assuming command of the party ensured that the CM’s chair remained with the party veteran and Pilot had to be content with the deputy CM post, which was no mean achievement considering that he retained the party President’s post.

Pilot is just 40 odd years and he could have bided his time but a sudden rush of blood could have thrown him into no man’s land or more precisely into political wilderness. Though he has only been relieved of his twin duties of Deputy CM and PCC president (apparently he was not happy with these 2 plum assignments), the doors to the Congress corridors are all but closed for him and he won’t be able to muster the strength to open those doors again.

With BJP’S state leadership led by former Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje reluctant to welcome Pilot because of the latter’s ambitious nature & his parent party cutting him to size, the political isolation of the young politician seems complete. Thus it won’t be a surprise if his flock (20 MLAs or less) deserts him in the face of political uncertainty and run back for pardon from Gehlot.

His dwindling flock of MLAs will not make him a welcome guest in the BJP unlike his peer Scindia who was in a position to topple the Kamal Nath government in Madhya Pradesh. His political survival increasingly depends on his flock, and in the event of his failing to shake the Gehlot government with enough numbers he could have to consign himself to floating a new political outfit which could drift aimlessly on the bipolar political waters of Rajasthan politics.

So has a promising career been cut short by the old guard and the omnipresent dynasts in the Congress, or is it a case of committing political hara kiri by Pilot? Well, though sycophancy and bowing to the wishes of the Gandhis has been the way for the Congress, Pilot also has to take some blame for finding himself in the predicament he is in. He cannot solely blame the party for sidelining him as he was made Gehlot’s deputy apart from being the PCC president.

Perhaps wanting to become the CM and overestimating the support he enjoyed while underestimating his perceived opponent who is a political thorough bred apart from being a two-time former CM, proved to be his undoing. The trigger could have been the raids by the SOG (Special Operations Group) but the embers of discontent and over ambition were burning since the party came back to power.

Sanjay Jha, the ousted Congress spokesperson, blames the party for the brewing discontent between Gehlot and Pilot, as according to him the latter was denied the CM’s chair after spearheading the campaign in 2018.

Pawan Khera, another Congress spokesperson from Rajasthan, however believes that Pilot got his due share and that he should have created his own space in the party instead of rushing to the high command. The fact that two promising young politicians albeit with a regional dynastic lineage hit a glass ceiling and were barricaded and stifled by the national dynasts, the Gandhis, tells the sorry state of affairs of the Congress and the inability of the party to learn any lessons from its past debacles.

The old guard continues to rule the roost in the oldest national party and if the young stallions continue to bolt the stables with such regularity, the party will be left only with old horses who will not have the adrenaline and the firepower to run and contest future elections.

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Aman Gupta
Aman Gupta
Political Editor, Samast Bharat magazine


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