This Article is From Apr 28, 2022

Congress's Balancing Act In Rajasthan Ahead Of Crucial 3-Day Camp

Sonia Gandhi faces another tough choice in Rajasthan, one of the two states the Congress is in power, which goes to elections next year.

Sachin Pilot has had three meetings with all three Gandhis in the past weeks, say sources.

Jaipur/New Delhi:

In the last three days, Congress President Sonia Gandhi has taken a series of decisions, the latest being to remove the powerful Kamal Nath in Madhya Pradesh from one of the two posts he was holding - as leader of opposition, along with state Congress chief which he retains. Now, she faces another tough choice in Rajasthan, one of the two states the Congress is in power, which goes to elections next year. 

Sachin Pilot, former deputy chief minister of Rajasthan, met her and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra separately last week. Sources in the Congress say he is keen that the Congress take a decision on who should be chief minister for the 2023 election, pointing to the Punjab fiasco.

The 44-year-old leader has reportedly conveyed to the leadership that if the Congress defers any decision on a course correction, Rajasthan may be lost in the same way as Punjab, where Charanjit Singh Channi's eleventh-hour appointment as Chief Minister proved to be an epic fail. 

Sachin Pilot has had three meetings with the Gandhis in the past few weeks, say sources.   

After his meeting with Sonia Gandhi last week, he told reporters: "I talked about how we need to break the trend and return to power in Rajasthan. I have really worked hard and the party should look at the way ahead." 

Mr Pilot also asserted that he had left the decision on his role on the leadership. "I have always made it clear to play my part in any role given but I would definitely like to focus on my state Rajasthan," he said. 
Two years ago, Mr Pilot has launched a revolt along with 18 MLAs, forcing Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot to sequester more than 100 MLAs at a resort. After weeks of sparring and tense negotiations, the Gandhis were able to persuade Mr Pilot to back down, with the promise of accommodating his supporters in the Gehlot cabinet.   
Last month, Mr Pilot's meeting with the Gandhis spurred fresh speculation that his patience may be wearing thin. Many of his peers have, after all, left the Congress and crossed over to the BJP - like Jyotiraditya Scindia and Jitin Prasada. 
But Ashok Gehlot, one of the Congress's senior most leaders, has already proved he will do whatever it takes to stay in charge. He enjoys the support of a majority of Congress MLAs and also has the confidence of Sonia Gandhi. "My resignation is always with Sonia Gandhi," he told reporters on Sunday while heading to a leadership meeting on election strategist Prashant Kishor.   
To appease Mr Pilot, the Congress reportedly offered him a post like an All India Congress Committee General Secretary - Priyanka Gandhi is one - but he declined, saying he did not want to move out of Rajasthan and his core support.   
Mr Pilot was reportedly asked to wait till 2023 and lead the party in the next election.  
For now, the Congress has put off a decision until after the "Chintan Shivir" or introspection meet on May 13-15 in Rajasthan's Udaipur. The meet, one of the big steps announced by the Congress after its latest state election defeats, is expected to be an Ashok Gehlot show all the way.