Once again, Congress high command struggles to control Pilot-Gehlot tussle in Rajasthan

31 July 2021
Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi (centre) with Sachin Pilot (left) and Ashok Gehlot during a public event in 2018.
Himanshu Vyas / Hindustan Times
Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi (centre) with Sachin Pilot (left) and Ashok Gehlot during a public event in 2018.
Himanshu Vyas / Hindustan Times

The political storm that arose within the Congress government in Rajasthan a year ago—a tussle for power between the current chief minister Ashok Gehlot and his former deputy Sachin Pilot—has taken on a new relevance in recent weeks. On the evening of 24 July, the Congress general secretary KC Venugopal and the All India Congress Committee’s Rajasthan chief Ajay Maken arrived in Jaipur for a long consultation with Gehlot and the Congress state president Govind Singh Dotasra. Speaking to the media after the meeting, Maken mentioned an impending cabinet reshuffle.

Over 28 and 29 July, Maken held one-on-one meetings with 119 MLAs from the Rajasthan assembly. The next day, Maken told the media that “all MLAs are satisfied” with the Gehlot government, and that he would be making a report to the All India Congress Committee in Delhi with an eye on its strategy for the 2023 elections in Rajasthan.

Maken had earlier denied any differences between Gehlot and Pilot over the cabinet reshuffle and a restructuring of the party leadership in the state. But local media is rife with reports of their disagreements over the new order. While Gehlot is reportedly seeking rewards for the 19 non-Congress MLAs that helped him retain power last year—a mix of independents and MLAs from the Bahujan Samaj Party who switched to the Congress—Pilot wants to tighten his hold in the party by putting as many of his supporters in the cabinet as possible. According to NDTV, Pilot attended the meeting on 24 July with a group of the MLAs supporting him and demanded that they be accommodated in the state government.

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    Anurag Basira a journalist based in Rajasthan.

    Keywords: Indian National Congress Sachin Pilot Ashok Gehlot Rajasthan Sonia Gandhi Rahul Gandhi
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