Rajasthan crisis: Will Congress drive Pilot out of fold?

Congress’ Rajasthan in-charge Sukhjinder Randhawa says action will be taken because Sachin Pilot’s way was not correct

NEW DELHI | Updated: 12 April, 2023 8:27 pm IST
Sachin Pilot held a day long sit-in protest, which did not go down well with Congress leadership

A day after Rajasthan Congress leader Sachin Pilot defied party wishes and held a day long protest over corruption in previous Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in the state, speculations are rife whether the Grand Old Party will drive Pilot out of the fold.

On Wednesday, April 12, party’s state in-charge Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa said that Pilot raised the right issue but his way was not correct. Randhawa also added that action will be taken.

“Action should have been taken in previous activities too, which did not happen. But now action will be taken,” Randhawa said while responding to a question if he would take action today as an in-charge of the state where previous rebellion by the MLAs of the Ashok Gehlot camp went unpunished.

“If I would have been the in-charge then I would have given an answer today. I am a very different kind of politician. I am a simple man and will call what is right is right and what is wrong,” he said.

When asked about even after his notice, a day-long hunger protest was carried out by Pilot, then what kind of action he will take, Randhawa said, “At least give me two days’ time then I will tell what I am doing.”

Earlier Randhawa said that he was studying Pilot’s speech and he will take action accordingly.

When asked if Rajasthan will face a similar fate like that of Punjab in the assembly polls, he said, “Will try to ensure Rajasthan does not end up as Punjab in 2022.”

Ahead of Pilot’s, Randhawa had issued a statement on Monday night dubbing it as “anti-party activity”.

“Pilot’s day-long fast on Tuesday is against the party interests and is anti-party activity. If there is any issue with his own government, it can be discussed in the party forums,” Randhawa said in a statement.

“I have been an AICC in-charge for the last five months and Pilot Ji has never discussed this issue with me. I am in touch with him and I still appeal for calm dialogue since he is an indisputable asset to the Congress party,” Randhawa had said.

However, several party leaders had conveyed to the party leadership that Pilot had done nothing wrong as he is highlighting the corruption during the previous BJP government. They said that his protest is not against the Congress state government.

Even Congress sympathiser Tehseen Poonawala, who is seen defending the grand old party on television debates, conveyed the same message to the party leadership about Pilot. He also urged them not to take any harsh action against the former Rajasthan deputy chief minister.

Pilot, who has been engaged in an old vs new generation fight against his former boss and Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot, held several rounds of public meetings in the state.

Relations between Gehlot and Pilot soured after the latter launched a revolt against the former in 2020 over certain demands including the CM’s post.

Though, unlike other young Congress leaders of his generation, Pilot did not switch to the BJP, the relations have soured so much so that Gehlot called his junior a “traitor” in November last year.

Pilot’s supporters argue that he was assured of action on certain demands which are yet to be fulfilled by the party’s central leadership. Since then, the Pilot camp has been relatively silent as they worked overtime to consolidate his position in the state unit.

In September last year, the Congress’ central leadership wanted to install Pilot as CM when it signaled its interests in making Gehlot the party president.

However, Gehlot wanted his own man to be the CM if he was to move to Delhi. Such was his difference with Pilot that Gehlot virtually sacrificed his national ambition as he scuttled a move to authorize interim president Sonia Gandhi to take a call on CM’s candidate.

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