With the exit of senior Congress leader Jitin Prasad from the Grand Old Party on Wednesday, the Congress party’s woes have begun tumbling out of the closet once again. The Congress’ house is in anything but order. Jitin Prasad’s entry into the BJP has only exacerbated the Congress’ woes – which knows that Sachin Pilot and his camp too will soon try to oust Ashok Gehlot from power in Rajasthan. Unlike his failed attempt at a secretive rebellion last year – this time, Sachin Pilot is openly challenging the Congress’ central leadership. His message is clear – enough is enough.
Speaking to Hindustan Times, Sachin Pilot expressed his grave displeasure at the way things were panning out in Rajasthan, and how the Congress was failing to fulfil promises made by it last year. “It has now been 10 months. I was given to understand that there would be swift action by the committee, but now half of the term is done, and those issues haven’t been resolved. It is unfortunate that so many of the party workers who worked and gave their all for getting us the mandate are not being heard,” Pilot said, refusing to elaborate on his next move.
According to Republic World, meanwhile, UP Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on Wednesday has reached out to ex-Dy CM Sachin Pilot, urging him to meet her soon. Vadra has allegedly also sent an emissary to Jaipur to talk to Pilot. Hindustan Times reported that the Congress high command is working on a cabinet expansion to include Pilot’s team members in the Rajasthan government – an effort which chief minister Ashok Gehlot seems to be resisting.
The arithmetic in Rajasthan is simply not in the favour of Ashok Gehlot. In a 200-member assembly, the majority mark to remain in power for Congress is 101. The Congress has 106 seats in the assembly, and Sachin Pilot’s camp of 18 MLAs rebelling would bring the Congress’ number down to 88. Considering the fact that the effective strength of the house would be reduced to 182, the magic number would then become 91. This would mean the end of Gehlot’s chief ministership.
And this is the best-case scenario for Ashok Gehlot. It is very likely that Pilot rebels with more than 18 MLAs, in which case it would become impossible for Ashok Gehlot to save his government – even with the support of BSP and independents.
A three-member panel was appointed to tackle Pilot’s demands but it has not met since August last. One of its members, Ahmed Patel – party chief Sonia Gandhi’s key troubleshooter – died of Covid in November last year. Sachin Pilot gave no less than six months to the committee (after the death of Ahmed Patel) to work out a solution and fulfil his demands. However, no progress has been made on that front, and Pilot is now infuriated. The Congress high command seems indifferent to his demands, and there is a good chance his rebellion this time around will not be a failure.