Senior Congress leader Sachin Pilot on Thursday met party president Sonia Gandhi, his second meeting with the party leadership in a fortnight, to discuss the political situation in Rajasthan, which goes to polls next year.
Pilot’s meeting with Gandhi came a day after she met chief ministers of Congress-ruled Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh — Ashok Gehlot and Bhupesh Baghel — amid ongoing intra-party deliberations to evolve a long-term strategy and discuss the plan presented by poll strategist Prashant Kishor.
With the Congress striving hard on revival and retaining Rajasthan, one of the two states ruled by the party, The Indian Express quoted sources saying that the possibilities of a change of guard in the state cannot be ruled out. They added that the leadership was weighing all possible options.
However, leaders close to Gehlot said that he enjoys “complete confidence of the leadership”. They argued that Pilot has been “desperately trying, but the leadership knows the ground reality”.
The Pilot camp, on the other hand, said that “a change of guard is no more not a possibility.” One leader said the high command is aware of the “ground situation” in Rajasthan and argued that the if the party does not retain the state in 2023, it will have an impact on the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.
News agency PTI quoted sources close to Pilot saying that he is keen on remaining active and involved in strengthening the party in Rajasthan, but has reiterated that he is willing to take on any role the party asks him to.
Pilot’s meeting with Gandhi, however, gains significance given the differences between the two top leaders of the state. In 2018, Pilot had rebelled against Gehlot and had eventually quit the ministry. The Congress leadership had then worked out a compromise formula and managed to persuade the former to stay with the party.
Two years later, he stormed to Delhi complaining about a raw deal, and camped with a group of 18 MLAs who backed him, for weeks, before being persuaded to drop his rebellion.