The ongoing political crisis in Rajasthan has turned out to be far more intricate that one could have imagined. The crisis had started as a young Sachin Pilot getting disillusioned with the old guard represented by the Rajasthan CM, Ashok Gehlot. Many had thought that Rajasthan would turn out to be another Madhya Pradesh where the Kamal Nath government lost steam after Scindia shifted to the BJP.
However, the BJP hasn’t been able to capitalise upon the situation like it did in Madhya Pradesh. Media reports are alluding to rumours about Vasundhara Raje, former Rajasthan CM and Gehlot forming an axis to keep Sachin Pilot in check.
As for Gehlot, it has to be admitted that he has put up a better defence than what Kamal Nath did during the Madhya Pradesh political crisis.
Instead of averting Pilot’s exit, Gehlot is focussing on disintegrating Pilot’s camp, in order to minimise the damage caused to his own throne.
In fact, disqualification notices were been handed to Pilot and his supporters from the Rajasthan State Assembly. An alleged audiotape has also been leaked (which the BJP has called fabricated) according to which the Congress claims that the BJP is working to dislodge the Ashok Gehlot government in the state.
But the political situation in Rajasthan is hardly limited to the Congress. The BJP itself seems to be getting ambivalent.
Recently, BJP MLA Kailash Meghwal, who is believed to be a close aide of former CM Vasundhara Raje said that it was not correct to topple a democratically elected government. It sounds rather strange for a BJP leader to make such a statement when it is known that the Gehlot government is losing steam.
However, Vasundhara Raje herself is said to be not very keen on letting Sachin Pilot join the BJP. As per India Today, people familiar with the internal deliberations within the BJP say that Vasundhara is “not enthusiastic” about the current turn of events in the country’s largest state.
Presently, Raje is not even in Jaipur where the grave political crisis is unravelling. She is reported to be at her Dholpur residence where she stays when not busy in politics. In fact, the former Rajasthan CM also skipped an informal BJP meeting on Thursday.
Despite the tumult in the Congress, Raje has remained silent for the most part. After several days of enigmatic silence, she finally spoke about the political situation but did not really show any intent to bring down the inefficient Gehlot government.
In fact, she hasn’t even targeted Gehlot directly.
— Vasundhara Raje (@VasundharaBJP) July 18, 2020
With Vasundhara Raje not getting into the thick of things, other prominent BJP leaders from Rajasthan Union minister Gajendra Shekhawat, Om Mathur and the Leader of Opposition in Rajasthan Gulab Chand Kataria have led the charge against the Congress.
What Raje’s lack of involvement has done is that it has allowed Sachin Pilot to get sidelined in Rajasthan politics, which in turn reduces the crumbling pressure on the incumbent government.
In fact, as per Outlook BJP sources have told it that the 67-year old leader is upset with the alleged proximity between Pilot and the BJP.
Outlook has quoted a senior BJP leader speaking on the condition of anonymity as saying, “Raje is eyeing the third term as chief minister of Rajasthan. Already, attempts were made to sideline her after BJP lost in assembly polls in 2018 in the state. The latest political crisis has made her more upset as she can see a potential replacement of her in Pilot if he joins the party. But even now she has the support of at least 30 MLAs who will stand with her.”
These claims go in line with what the NDA ally, RLP leader Hanuman Beniwal had to say about Vasundhara Raje.
Beniwal had tweeted that Raje called up Congress legislators close to her and asked them to support Gehlot. He said, “She called every Jat MLA in Sikar and Nagaur and asked them to maintain distance from Sachin Pilot. We have proof of this.”
पूर्व सीएम वसुंधरा राजे ने @INCRajasthan में उनके करीबी विधायको से दूरभाष पर बात करके उन्हें @ashokgehlot51 का साथ देने की बात कही,सीकर व नागौर जिले के एक एक जाट विधायको को राजे ने खुद इस मामले में बात करके @SachinPilot से दूरी बनाने को कहा जिसके पुख्ता प्रमाण हमारे पास है !
— HANUMAN BENIWAL (@hanumanbeniwal) July 16, 2020
Sachin Pilot seems uncomfortable within the Congress fold. He is looking to move out. If he joins the BJP, it would be a huge boost for the party even if it doesn’t immediately lead to a regime change.
However, Sachin Pilot is going to be ambitious and would directly challenge Raje for the top post if he joins BJP. When Pilot doesn’t accept Gehlot’s supremacy, why will be accept Raje’s?
For Raje, it is easier to handle an unimpressive Gehlot as compared to Pilot who can emerge as a highly popular leader. And this perception is causing speculations about Raje turning somewhat sympathetic towards the incumbent Chief Minister.
BJP hasn’t emerged as a cohesive force and this has allowed the political crisis to drag on. The speculations, allegations and the enigmatic silence of Raje herself has now also drawn the BJP into the ongoing political crisis.