Millennium Post

Will Pilot make a rough landing?

New Delhi: The ongoing tussle between Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and his deputy Sachin Pilot may continue for a little longer as the later is firm on fulfillment of his 'special' demands to get more 'power' in the state government which is dominated by Gehlot and his loyalists.

As per party sources, both Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi have been briefed about the situation and the party leadership is confident that they won't allow Madhya Pradesh like situation in Rajasthan.

However, Pilot claimed that he has the support of over 30 Congress MLAs and some independents. The statement released on Pilot's WhatsApp group claimed that the Ashok Gehlot-led Congress government is in minority now. The message also added that Pilot will not attend Congress Legislative Party meeting scheduled to be held on Monday.

In an attempt to avoid a repeat of Madhya Pradesh's situation, the party immediately sent two observers — Randeep Surjewala and Ajay Maken — to Jaipur to find out a workable solution. Sources in the party read this move in favour of Pilot as both the observers are considered as close to Rahul Gandhi, so there are chances that 'demands' of Pilot would be fulfilled.

A decision in this regard would be taken after the key meeting of all party MLAs, which has called by Gehlot at 10.30 am on Monday. Earlier the meeting was scheduled to be held at 9 pm on Sunday. The party is also making all efforts to ensure that all its MLAs attend the crucial meet.

In-charge of Rajasthan affairs in the Congress, Avinash Pande said that the government was stable and would complete its full term.

Party insiders said that Pilot may be offered some powerful ministerial berth along with president post of the state Congress, while there is no plan to change the guard in the state.

As per political observers, the Rajasthan crisis that has emerged three months after it lost Jyotiraditya Scindia and Madhya Pradesh to the BJP is the fallout of the long-standing tussle between the party's old guard and the new.

The crisis deepened further after Pilot was summoned by Special Operation Group (SOP) over allegations of destabilising the government.

Pilot loyalists said that the notice was served by Gehlot as he heads the home ministry that controls the SOG to marginalise Pilot — who is in Delhi with a group of his MLAs.

Refuting all the charges, Gehlot clarified, "Notices have come from the SOG to the CM, his deputy, Chief Whip and some other ministers and MLAs for making general statements in the context of the Congress Legislature Party complaining of horse-trading by BJP leaders. It is not appropriate to present it differently by some media."

However, Pilot supporters said that instead of joining BJP, he may float a regional party. Experts have opined that till Vasundhara Raje is there, BJP won't offer him the CM post.

It's been also said that former CM Raje has the support of 45 MLAs and her first priority is to bring down the Gehlot government.

The Congress' inability to resolve the problems at the beginning itself has been aptly expressed by senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal by saying "Worried for our party... Will we wake up only after the horses have bolted from our stables?"

The issues that widen the differences between the two leaders include the defeat of CM's son Vaibhav Gehlot in last year's Lok Sabha election, nominating Neeraj Dangi for Rajya Sabha poll, death of 107 children in Kota that brought the differences between the two in public after Pilot blamed the state for such incidents.

The Congress holds 107 seats in the 200-strong Rajasthan Assembly and has support from 12 independent candidates. In addition, five MLAs from other parties — the Rashtriya Lok Dal, the CPM and the Bharatiya Tribal Party — support Gehlot.

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