The fragile peace that the Congress party was trying to maintain in Rajasthan but trying to put a united front before the Bharat Jodo Yatra was shattered earlier this week when Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot launched a no holds barred attack on his former deputy CM Sachin Pilot.
In an interview with NDTV, Gehlot not only said that it was impossible for Pilot to become the chief minister but also branded him as a 'Gaddar' (traitor). What necessitated this outburst of Gehlot just days before the Bharat Jodo Yatra is scheduled to enter Rajasthan? One can find the answer in the continuous pressure that the Pilot faction was mounting for the last few weeks demanding a resolution of leadership in the state before yatra enters Jaipur.In the past week, Ajay Maken, Congress general secretary in charge for the state has resigned, the supporters of Gehlot had gone totally silent and loyalists of former deputy chief minister Sachin Pilot were aggressively demanding that the leadership issue be resolved before the Rajasthan leg of the yatra.
The Pilot group realises that before the next elections -- due in a year -- this is the last chance to convince the Congress high command to make the 45-year-old Pilot the CM. The Pilot supporters are also highlighting how Gehlot loyalist MLAs skipped an official party meeting hoping that the Congress high command might take action against them and the chief minister, who has made it abundantly clear that he is not leaving the top post without a fight.Recently Pilot loyalist MLA and Chairman of Rajasthan SC commission Khiladi Lal Bairwa openly said that it is essential to take the opinion of all MLAs before the Bharat Jodo Yatra entered Rajasthan. "The high command should not delay further and make necessary changes to be done in Rajasthan before Rahul Gandhi's yatra enters Rajasthan," said Baiwa, adding that Maken's resignation was a big blow to Rajasthan Congress. After Bairwa, senior Congress supporter and forest minister Hemaram Choudhry, too said that the high command needs to fix the issue of leadership in Rajasthan and praised Pilot for his patience. He also added an ominous warning that single quote 'saints run out of patience'. The Congress high command in September had said that there will be a decision on Rajasthan leadership in two days but the status quo still remains. Only one year is left (before the 2023 Assembly elections). "Things are becoming a joke in Congress and we do not understand why this is happening. Whatever you need to do within one year should be done before Rahul Ji's yatra (enters Rajasthan). Without delay,” Bairwa told reporters after the news of Maken’s resignation became public. Bairwa said it was necessary. He said the high command should speak separately with each MLA. Bairwa also criticised reports that one or two of the three leaders, who were served with the show cause notices, were also involved in making arrangements for the Rajasthan phase of the Yatra. On the other hand, Gujjar community leader Vijay Bainsla has demanded that Sachin Pilot be made the CM and threatened to oppose the Bharat Jodo Yatra if demands are not fulfilled. Vijay is the son of the late Col Kirori Singh Bainsla who spearheaded the Gujjar protests for reservation. However, Vijay himself has been criticised by the other factions of the Gujjar community along with loyalist MLAs of Pilot who had accused him of being a BJP stooge. In an effort to ease its internal infighting, the state Congress has constituted a committee to oversee the management of Bharat Jodo Yatra, including Gehlot, Pilot and their loyalists. The Bharat Jodo Yatra is scheduled to enter Rajasthan on December 3 and will pass through districts including Jhalawar, Kota, Alwar and Dausa.