Sachin Pilot may not become the Chief Minister in Rajasthan if the party chooses to appoint the older, more experienced Ashok Gehlot, but the urbane politician, equally at home in a village as in the debating room of an English news channel, has more than earned his electoral stripes, say party leaders.
Mr Pilot has undoubtedly helped steer the Congress from the depths of defeat in 2013 and has helped the party come closer to a victory in Rajasthan.
To Mr Pilot goes the credit of ensuring that his party came back to power in Rajasthan, in keeping with the 'revolving door' tradition of voters (alternately choosing the BJP and the Congress).
In 2013, when the Congress faced its worst defeat, winning just 21 seats against the BJP's 163, party President Rahul Gandhi handed the reins of the state to the next gen leader, a two-time parliamentarian and son of former leader Rajesh Pilot who died in 2000 in a road accident in Dausa. Mr Pilot, who served as minister in the UPA government in different capacities, accepted the challenge and refocused his attention from national politics to state level challenges.
Starting a new journey in his political career, he travelled for over five lakh kilometres through the length and breadth of the Rajasthan to strengthen the party at the grassroots level and ensure its comeback.
The 'young gun' tag may have stuck, but Mr Pilot has shown a level of maturity in successfully walking many a tightrope - of his urban and rural avatars, of establishing ground level connect and also reaching out to tech savvy youth, of engaging with grassroots worker but also dealing with the galaxy of party stalwarts in the state.
Known to be affable and approachable, Mr Pilot's hands-on approach as the state unit chief has won him several supporters both within the party and outside, Congress workers believe. He was elected as lawmaker from his father's constituency Dausa in 2004 and became the youngest member of the parliament.
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