Gehlot vs Pilot: Speculation rife in Rajasthan ahead of Cabinet rejig

Senior Congress leaders KC Venugopal and Ajay Maken meet party leaders; MLAs told to remain in Jaipur till Cabinet reshuffle, likely on Wednesday, July 28

There has been long-standing friction between the factions led by Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot and party leader Sachin Pilot.

With the Rajasthan Cabinet likely to be expanded on Wednesday, July 28, senior Congress leader KC Venugopal and the party’s state unit in-charge Ajay Maken interacted with party MLAs and Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) members on Sunday, said an India Today report. The duo will meet Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot later in the day.

The Congress MLAs in the state have reportedly been told to stay put in Jaipur till the expansion is announced, the report added.

Furore over earlier meeting

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The Congress MLAs were to attend a meeting on Sunday, it was reported. However, there was a furore as former Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot was not invited. Subsequently, PCC president Govind Singh Dotasara said no such meeting was scheduled for the day. The MLAs had been assembled just to welcome Venugopal and Maken, he added.

Also read: Punjab Congress at crossroads: Will Singh or Sidhu be the king?

There have been reports of friction between the Pilot-led faction with Gehlot’s faction. The India Today report said Pilot and Gehlot loyalists have been in a war of words with each other over the Cabinet rejig plan. The reshuffle is expected to give Pilot and his followers some plum portfolios.

In his Saturday meeting with Venugopal and Maken, Gehlot is said to have left the decision on the Cabinet expansion with party president Sonia Gandhi. The CM also discussed a ‘reconciliation formula’ for the new Cabinet, the report said.

The Punjab example?

Following highly publicised sparring between Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and state Congress bigwig Navjot Singh Sindhu, the party high command intervened and named Sidhu the president of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee. This may have triggered a fresh debate in Rajasthan, where there’s a long-standing feud between Gehlot and Pilot, said India Today.

Pilot’s faction is said to be upset with the party’s central leadership over the delay in Cabinet expansion. In July 2020, Pilot had been sacked as Deputy CM and PCC chief after he reportedly rebelled against Gehlot’s leadership.

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