Rajasthan Congress leader Sachin Pilot met with Sonia Gandhi today amid reports that he had expressed his fervent wish to become Chief Minister of his home state. "I talked about how we need to break the trend and return to power in Rajasthan," Sachin Pilot said after the meeting, referring to next year's elections in the state.
The ruling Congress, with its shrinking national footprint, faces the challenge of beating Rajasthan's trend of the incumbent losing elections.
Sachin Pilot's future role in Rajasthan was discussed in the meeting, sources said. The last posts he held were those of Rajasthan Congress chief and Deputy Chief Minister, both of which he lost when he rebelled in 2020.
"I have talked about the future of the Congress and how to take it forward in the state of Rajasthan...how we need to break the trend and return to power. Certain steps need to be taken to further strengthen the party," he told reporters.
The political call on his role and responsibilities will be taken by the Congress president, sources said.
Asked whether he would accept a national role instead of the top post in Rajasthan, with Ashok Gehlot unlikely to yield, Sachin Pilot said: "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."
Today's meeting follows a series of high profile exits from the Congress over the last two years. Sachin Pilot is almost the last man standing when it comes to Rahul Gandhi's closest aides; leaders like Jyotiraditya Scindia, Jitin Prasada and RPN Singh switched to the BJP.
Sachin Pilot has made it clear to the Gandhis that he is keen to become Chief Minister of Rajasthan; he had fought for the top job when the Congress won the 2018 Rajasthan election but was persuaded to settle for the post of Ashok Gehlot's deputy.
Two years later, he stormed to Delhi complaining about a raw deal, and camped with a group of 18 MLAs who backed him, for weeks, before being persuaded to drop his rebellion. The revolt brought Mr Gehlot's government to the verge of collapse.
Mr Pilot held a meeting with Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra a few days ago, sources say.
In 2020, the Gandhis were able to coax him out of his rebellion with a promise to look into his grievances and to give his supporters a better share in the party and the Rajathan government.
The changes finally materalised more than a year later. Ashok Gehlot, seen to be resistant to any change that could give Mr Pilot more power, finally shuffled his cabinet late last year to accommodate his rival's supporters.
At the time, Mr Pilot told reporters that he was willing to take any responsibility the party gave him.