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Cong’s Key Meet Over Pilot vs Gehlot Amid Fear of 2021 Punjab Redux Before Poll; Major Change Likely?


Defying the party's warning, Pilot had observed a fast in Jaipur on Tuesday demanding action from the Ashok Gehlot government. (PTI photo)

Defying the party’s warning, Pilot had observed a fast in Jaipur on Tuesday demanding action from the Ashok Gehlot government. (PTI photo)

Gehlot vs Pilot: Congress does not want to repeat the mistakes made in Punjab in 2021 when former chief minister Amarinder Singh had quit the party months before the Assembly elections and formed his own outfit.

Congress leader Sachin Pilot is scheduled to meet party high command on Thursday to hear him out amid the leader’s ongoing conflict with Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot. State Congress in-charge Sukhjinder Randhawa is also likely to be a part of the meeting.

Acknowledging Pilot’s claims of corruption but criticising his approach, Randhawa met Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge in Delhi to discuss the situation. Rajasthan’s party in-charge reportedly stated that Pilot should have raised the issues during the Assembly session.

According to reports, Randhawa held a conversation with Sachin Pilot for 30 minutes on Wednesday (April 12), and will continue with talks on Thursday as well. The AICC in-charge of the state said he will do an analysis of the sequence of events of not just now but from before.

“I will see where we are standing, where mistakes were made from our side or from his side and will submit a full report,” he said

“Had the issue been raised in the Assembly, people would have seen that Sachin Pilot is raising the matter, and the CM would have had to respond to it. If not there, he could have raised it with me as I meet him more often than I meet the CM due to my relations with this family since 1986,” Randhawa further said.

He added that Pilot should have clearly asked why arrests were not made made in the scam involving Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, and also demanded a probe of the case under Vasundhara Raje. However, Pilot’s approach was not pro-party, the AICC in-charge stated.

The state leader accepted that there should have been action taken in the past, which was not done. He then went on to assure that concrete steps would be taken this time.

Congress president Kharge later on Wednesday met Rahul Gandhi to discuss the matter, after he received that report from Randhawa. News agency ANI quoted it sources as saying that Rahul will discuss the situation with Sonia Gandhi, and the final decision will rest with Kharge.

Defying the party’s warning, Pilot had observed a fast in Jaipur on Tuesday demanding action from the Ashok Gehlot government in cases of alleged corruption under the previous Vasundhara Raje-led BJP government in Rajasthan.

The situation is concerning as it comes months before Rajasthan assembly elections that are scheduled to held later this year. Pilot has been pushing for the chief ministerial post, but Gehlot remains unmoved.

Both Gehlot and Pilot were keen on the chief minister’s post when the party won the state in 2018. But the Congress high command picked Gehlot for the top post for a third time.

Revisiting the 2020 Gehlot vs Pilot Conflict

In July 2020, Pilot and a section of Congress MLAs rebelled openly against Gehlot, demanding a change of leadership in the state. Pilot was stripped then of the posts of deputy chief minister and Pradesh Congress Committee president.

The month-long crisis ended after the Congress central leadership’s assurance to look into the issues Pilot raised. Gehlot later used terms like “gaddar” (traitor), “nakara” (failure) and “nikamma” (worthless) for Pilot, and accused him of being involved with BJP leaders in a conspiracy to topple the Congress government.

Last September, MLAs in the Gehlot camp boycotted a Congress Legislature Party (CLP) meeting and held a parallel one to stall what they felt was an attempt to make Pilot the new chief minister. Gehlot was then being considered for the party president’s post.

Action Plan to Avoid 2021 Punjab Redux

The Congress now aims to resolve the conflict before it impacts the party’s prospects in the upcoming elections. A report in

Hindustan

quoted sources as saying that the party’s top leadership has indicated that a major change can take place to end the tussle and restore unity.

It further quoted sources as saying that the party does not want to repeat the mistakes made in Punjab in 2021 when former chief minister Amarinder Singh had quit the party months before the Assembly elections and formed his own outfit.

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