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Rajasthan: Cong stares at another crisis as Sachin Pilot wants to be CM face ahead of Polls

By Saima Siddiqui 
Updated Date

Jaipur: Days after election strategist Prashant Kishor turned down Sonia Gandhi’s offer to join the party’s ‘Empowered Action Group’ (EAG), the grand old party is facing another crisis, with Sachin Pilot reportedly telling the party’s high command that he wants to become Rajasthan’s Chief Minister ‘as soon as possible’ and work to ensure the party’s return to power in the 2023 election.

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The 44-year-old leader is said to have told Sonia Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra that if the Congress delays making a decision on a course correction, Rajasthan could be lost in the same way that Punjab was lost in the aftermath of Charanjit Singh Channi’s last-minute appointment as Chief Minister.

According to insiders, Sachin Pilot has met with the Gandhis three times in the last two weeks.

He informed reporters after his meeting with Sonia Gandhi last week that, “I talked about how we need to break the trend and return to power in Rajasthan. I have really worked hard and the party should look at the way ahead.”

Mr Pilot also stated that he had delegated his choice on his leadership position to others. “I have always made it clear to play my part in any role given but I would definitely like to focus on my state Rajasthan,” he remarked.

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Rajasthan will have elections in December 2023.

Mr Pilot led a mutiny with 18 MLAs two years ago, leading Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot to sequester more than 100 MLAs at a resort. The Gandhis were able to persuade Mr Pilot to back down after weeks of fighting and hard discussions, with the promise of accommodating his followers in the Gehlot administration.

Mr Pilot’s visit with the Gandhis last month sparked further suspicion that his patience was becoming thin. Many of his colleagues, including Jyotiraditya Scindia and Jitin Prasada, have defected from the Congress to the BJP.

However, Ashok Gehlot, one of the Congress’s most senior leaders, has previously demonstrated that he will go to any length to maintain power. He has the backing of the majority of Congress MLAs, as well as Sonia Gandhi’s confidence. “My resignation is always with Sonia Gandhi,” he told reporters on Sunday while heading to a leadership meeting on election strategist Prashant Kishor.

The Congress allegedly offered Mr Pilot a position as an All India Congress Committee General Secretary – Priyanka Gandhi is one – to pacify him, but he rejected, claiming that he did not want to leave Rajasthan and his core supporters.

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Mr Pilot was allegedly told to wait until 2023 before running for the party’s next election.

For the time being, the Congress has deferred a decision until after the “Chintan Shivir,” or reflection meeting, scheduled for May 13-15 in Udaipur, Rajasthan. The meeting, which is one of the major initiatives promised by the Congress in the aftermath of its recent state election losses, is slated to be an Ashok Gehlot show from start to finish.

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