For nearly a week now, the fast spinning political wheel of the ongoing Rajasthan roulette has left everyone guessing varied probabilities to place their bets on. Chief minister Ashok Gehlot insists his government’s majority in the 200-member Rajasthan assembly is intact. Sacked deputy chief minister Sachin Pilot and his 18 loyalists believe that their rebellion has reduced the Congress to a minority. The BJP, with its proven prowess at toppling governments, and Pilot’s fleet want a floor test to determine the numbers. In the midst of this power gamble, the media too is calling another set of bets: will Pilot remain in the Congress after declaring open rebellion against his bête noire, or will he—like many other Congressmen before him—switch to the BJP or risk announcing his own political outfit?
The Gehlot-Pilot feud had begun soon after the Congress wrested power from the BJP in the December 2018 assembly polls. Pilot, who had led the campaign as the Rajasthan Congress chief and spent the preceding five years trying to revive his down-and-out party in the desert state believed—he still does—that the CM’s chair was rightfully his. However, the majority of the Congress’s 101 MLAs supported Gehlot, as did a dozen independently elected legislators. It took then Congress president Rahul Gandhi four days to arrive at a compromise between the two contenders. Finally, given his popularity in the Congress legislative party (CLP) and acceptance among 20 other legislators who had extended support to the party to form a government, Gehlot returned as CM for a third time, with Pilot as his deputy. Later, Gehlot got six BSP legislators who were supporting his government to merge with the Congress; taking the party’s legislative strength to 107, a thin but clear majority. The BJP, with 72 MLAs and support of three others, was a long way off the simple majority mark of 101.