With the Congress high command busy sorting out the power struggle between Siddaramaiah and DK Shivakumar over the Karnataka chief minister’s post, things may be coming to a head in Rajasthan, where former state Congress chief and former deputy CM Sachin Pilot has been waging a political war against CM Ashok Gehlot for a while now.
The high command has repeatedly put off dealing with the matter and, now, local reports suggest that Pilot may deliver a “big blow” to the party on the death anniversary of his father, Rajesh Pilot, on June 11. The reason for the speculation is that during the recently-concluded Jan Sangharsh Yatra, a 125-km foot march Pilot undertook from Ajmer to Jaipur, a torch was seen on the banner instead of the Congress symbol, reported the Hindi-language daily Hindustan.
This has reportedly given rise to speculations locally that Pilot may break away from the Congress on his father’s death anniversary and float his own party. It will also increase his chances of making the kingmaker in the Assembly elections to be held later this year.
However, these are unconfirmed reports. For now, Pilot has threatened to launch a massive agitation against his own party’s government in Rajasthan if no action is taken on his demands by this month-end. These demands include dissolving of the “corruption-riddled” Rajasthan Public Service Commission and its reconstitution backed by a new law, compensation for students affected by paper leaks, and probe into corruption cases under the earlier Vasundhara Raje-led BJP government.
“If no action is taken by this month-end on these three demands, I will launch a state-wide agitation,” Pilot said on Monday (May 15), adding that he would serve people till his “last breath”. “Nothing scares me,” he added.
The animosity between CM Gehlot and Pilot goes back to 2018, when the party formed the government in the state. Pilot openly rebelled against Gehlot in 2020 along with 18 other Congress MLAs though his revolt fizzled out. He was removed from the posts of Deputy CM as well as the party’s state unit president.
Also read: Graft charges: Congress leaders back Gehlot; Sachin Pilot remains firm
Gehlot has accused Pilot and his loyalists of taking money from the BJP for their revolt, while Pilot has accused Gehlot of “inaction” against Raje and other state BJP leaders over their alleged corruption while in power. His foot march was also against corruption in the state, he had said.
“I am taking out this yatra to raise my voice, to hear your voice, and to become the voice of the people,” Pilot had said.
Cabinet minister Hemaram Choudhary, a Pilot loyalist who was present at Monday’s rally to end the foot march, said, “Our head of government (CM Gehlot) says former CM Vasundhara Raje saved our government. So, is it now Vasundhara Raje government or a Congress government? It is beyond my understanding.” Gehlot had recently remarked that Raje had saved his government during the 2020 revolt.
Kazi Nizamuddin, Rajasthan co-in-charge of the All-India Congress Committee (AICC), said on Tuesday (May 16) that national party president Mallikarjun Kharge has an eye on the Rajasthan situation. Nizamuddin said that the matter has been “pending” and the Congress president will take a decision once he has addressed the situation in Karnataka.
(With agency inputs)