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'It is the Congress that has lost, not Sachin Pilot'

By SYED FIRDAUS ASHRAF
July 14, 2020 18:06 IST
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'The Congress party destabilised its own government in Madhya Pradesh and lost power.'
'Now it has become vulnerable in Rajasthan.'
'In the process, we lost two brilliant political leaders who could be the future prime ministers of our country.'

IMAGE: Sachin Pilot, who was sacked as Rajasthan's deputy chief minister and state Congress chief, addresses the media in Jaipur. Photograph: ANI Photo
 

Two days ago, when then Rajasthan deputy chief minister Sachin Pilot raised a banner of revolt against his government headed by Ashok Gehlot, it seemed that the young leader would get what he had set his eyes on since 2018: The chief ministership.

In two days, not only has he been removed as deputy CM, he has also been ousted as the Rajasthan Pradesh Congress Committee prwsident.

And worse, the support of 30 MLAs, which he had claimed on Sunday, appears to have evaporated in the desert heat.

Did Sachin Pilot misread the situation, overestimate his strength and discount Gehlot?

Is his failed revolt, coming on the heels of Jyotiraditya Scindia's rebellion in Madhya Pradesh, a sign of a rot within the Congress party?

"Sachin Pilot is a political asset like Jyotiraditya Scindia. He had every legitimate right to demand to become the CM," Sanjay Jha, who was removed as Congress party spokesperson for being too outspoken, tells Syed Firdaus Ashraf/Rediff.com.

What is happening in the Congress party? Why are Sonia Gandhi-Rahul Gandhi so suspicious of young leaders?

The answer is simple, the Congress party needs to decentralise its power structure.

The high command culture in Congress party has to go.

More important, is to bring in new non-Gandhi leaders to lead the helm of affairs.

So there is no competition to Rahul Gandhi from any young leaders in the Congress after Sachin Pilot and Jyotiraditya Scindia are pushed out.

Trust me, there is simmering discontent within the party.

Sachin is one manifestation of it, and you will probably see more protests from various members of the party.

Did the Congress win Rajasthan in the 2018 election because of Sachin Pilot or Ashok Gehlot?

Rajasthan was won entirely because of Sachin Pilot.

When in 2013, Ashok Gehlot was the chief minister of Rajasthan and elections were conducted, the Congress party's figure was the lowest of all time at 21 seats.

And if the figure came back to 100 seats, and that too with Narendra Modi-Amit Shah at the helm of affairs, the entire credit single-handedly goes to Sachin Pilot.

If that was the case, why did only 16 legislators go to Sachin Pilot's camp while a majority of them went with Ashok Gehlot? What was the reason?

Because at the end of day, Gehlot has been chief minister of Rajasthan for three terms.

He has the power to distribute ministerial appointments and favours, therefore so many MLAs went to his side.

Why do the current arguments in favour of Sachin Pilot over Ashok Gehlot sound so ageist?

Today's problem was planted in December 2018 when instead of making Sachin Pilot chief minister, the post was given to Ashok Gehlot.

Gehlot was made chief minister for the third time despite the fact that he brought the Congress party to virtual devastation in 2013.

The entire debate spins on the age factor, making it like because Pilot is younger he is more preferable.
Are we forgetting that the biggest economic reforms in India were wrought not by the youngest prime minister with the biggest majority but an elderly PM heading a minority government?
So does really age matter in politics?

All I can say is that Sachin Pilot is a political asset like Jyotiraditya Scindia. He had every legitimate right to demand to become the CM and the Congress committed political hara-kiri.

Sachin Pilot has now been ousted as deputy CM and also as Rajasthan Congress chief. It looks like he was lured into a trap which he did not see coming.

The Congress party destabilised its own government in Madhya Pradesh and lost power. Now it has become vulnerable in Rajasthan.

In the process we lost two brilliant political leaders who could be the future prime ministers of our country.

It is the Congress party that has lost, not Sachin Pilot.

Is Sachin Pilot prime minister material? Really?

I believe he had it in him. He had the material to become Congress president and the future prime minister of India.

By rooting for Pilot, aren't we dissing what Gehlot has achieved over the decades?

In politics, you live in the moment.

Gehlot's track record may have been impressive in Rajasthan and nobody is denying that.

In 2013, however, the Congress was badly routed in the Rajasthan assembly election and the same thing happened under his leadership in Rajasthan in the 2019 Lok Sabha election.

We got zero seats. The proof of the pudding is in the performance in elections.

Where does Sachin Pilot go now? What is his future?

The bigger question is not Pilot, but where will the Congress go now?

We gave away Karnataka from our hands, then Madhya Pradesh, and now destabilised our government in Rajasthan.

And there are murmurs that even Chhattisgarh may have similar problems coming up.

Old-timers recall how Rajesh Pilot was a young rebel in the Congress. Is the son out to fulfil his father's unfinished task. Is that what this is about?

There is general unhappiness in the Congress party.

There are many Congress leaders who recognise that we have an existential crisis and Sachin Pilot is just one manifestation of that.

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SYED FIRDAUS ASHRAF / Rediff.com
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