Rajasthan is going to see elections in less than a year. With elections this close there should have been ongoing preparations to go head on with the Vasundhara Raje led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in the state. But Congress as of now is facing a battle of its own, and this infighting is bound to hurt the prospects of Congress in the state. Former CM of Rajasthan Ashok Gehlot has expressed the desire to remain in the state to solidify his position for the CM chair. While the Congress were planning to hoist the name of state Congress president Sachin Pilot for the CM post, some statements given by Gehlot and his supporters have wreaked havoc in the camps of the Congress. The supporters of both Gehlot and Pilot have now started to blaming each other which has led to further division within the ranks of state Congress unit in Rajasthan.
While talking to the media in Udaipur, Gehlot had said, “When the face has been in front of you for ten years where is the need of talking about a new face?” He further went on to add that the people’s voice is God’s voice and that he could not go away from the people of the state. Gehlot who is also the All India Congress Committee (AICC) General Secretary has a strong claim to the CM seat owing to him being a former CM and a senior leader in the state unit. His comments came after former union minister and his loyalist Lalchand Kataria had issued a statement to the Congress party via a local news channel. Lalchand Kataria had said, “Gehlot should be declared as the chief ministerial candidate and elections in the state must be fought with Gehlot as the CM face. The people of Rajasthan also want Gehlot to be the Chief Minister. The party high command is also aware of the situation and is continuously taking a feedback”.
This statement made by Kataria was met with sharp criticism from the faction of Sachin Pilot loyalists inside the party. These included state in-charge of Rajasthan Avinash Pandey who termed it as an attempt to weaken the party from inside. Gehlot had maintained a cool head when he was asked to reply to the comments issued by the group of Sachin Pilot supporters.When asked about Sachin Pilot he said, ” He is dear to me I had recommended his name when he was made union minister”. This shows he is not yet ready to leave the ambitions of becoming the CM again. His statement is also a subtle hint towards how junior Sachin Pilot is to him and how he had helped him rise in politics, an attempt to show that the younger Pilot is no match for him.
A blame game has ensued in the Congress where supporters of the two leaders have started throwing dirt on each other. While some Pilot loyalists have resorted to blaming Gehlot for the debacle faced by the party in 2013 Rajasthan elections, the Gehlot supporters claim that his 40 year old connect with the citizens of the state is reason enough for him to be declared the CM candidate prior to the election. This infighting is bound to hurt the party in the upcoming elections, state as well as Lok Sabha elections as defection of disgruntled leaders might occur. A rift in the state level could also portray Rahul Gandhi as a failed leader and his candidature for the prime ministerial post might come under serious questioning.