Sun. Jun 23rd, 2024

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New Headache For Congress? Buzz Over Sachin Pilot's Move Ahead Of Polls

Reports suggest Sachin Pilot, 45, could make an announcement on June 11.

Jaipur:

Congress leader Sachin Pilot has repeatedly challenged and warned his party in recent weeks, embarrassing the leadership as it struggles to project unity in Rajasthan. There is intense speculation that he may soon deliver a significant blow to the Congress by launching his own party in Rajasthan just before polls in the state.

Reports suggest Sachin Pilot, 45, could make an announcement on June 11 – the death anniversary of his father Rajesh Pilot, a Congress leader – though sources close to him say he is waiting for the Congress leadership to respond to his demands.

The sources also denied that any big rally was being planned on June 11. They said, like every year, there will be a programme to commemorate the death anniversary in Dausa as it was Rajesh Pilot’s constituency.

Mr Pilot has given his own government an ultimatum on acting on corruption allegations against the BJP’s Vasundhara Raje. The Congress leader has alleged that Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, his in-house rival, has not taken any action against Vasundhara Raje because of a pact with the BJP leader, a charge that the BJP has strongly refuted.

Amid conjectures over his next move, sources close to him say he is waiting for a definitive response from the party leadership. They assert that his main focus is to combat corruption and address pressing concerns of the youth, including the exam paper leaks.

“He (Pilot) is waiting for a response from the party leadership, the ball is in their court,” news agency PTI said, quoting sources close to him.

A four-hour meeting last month between the Congress leadership and the Rajasthan rivals, Ashok Gehlot and Sachin Pilot, failed to produce a solution.

Though the leaders put up a show of unity and promised a “united fight” in the Rajasthan election, it was evident that the bitterness remained. Congress sources say the breach between the two leaders may be unsurmountable and the relationship may have reached a point of no return.

The feud began in 2018, when the Congress won the Rajasthan election, and had to pick between two claimants to the top post. The party chose Ashok Gehlot, and Sachin Pilot settled for the role of his deputy. Two years later, however, Mr Pilot revolted against his boss, demanding a “fair share” in power.

The rebellion fizzled out as 100-plus MLAs chose to stay with Mr Gehlot. At no point has Mr Pilot been able to produce more than 20 MLAs in his support, making it tougher for the party to pick a side. Mr Pilot ended his revolt after the Gandhis assured him a solution.

Last year, 72 MLAs resigned in protest against the Congress’s move to make Mr Gehlot party president, which would mean his replacement in Rajasthan, possibly by Mr Pilot.

Mr Gehlot, with his frequent attacks on his former Deputy, has made it clear that he will not stand back. The Chief Minister has referred to his younger rival as a gaddar (traitor), nikamma (worthless) and “coronavirus”.

After the recent “unity show”, the Chief Minister even commented that the Congress high command is “strong” and would never offer any position to pacify a leader.

Leaders close to Mr Pilot slammed the comment and said he has taken a “principled position” and it is not about posts.

A state minister close to Mr Pilot, Murari Lal Meena, denied speculation of a party launch at the event. “I have no idea where the speculation of the new party started. I do not see any substance in such speculations. I work following the ideology of the party,” said Mr Meena, according to PTI.

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