Speculation rife about Sachin Pilot floating new party

The Congress in Rajasthan insists that problems have been sorted out but rumours of Pilot breaking away and starting a new party persist

June 07, 2023 12:21 am | Updated 09:53 am IST - JAIPUR

Congress leader Sachin Pilot’s supporters in the State are in a muddle over his demands calling for action on corruption and exam paper leaks, which remain unaddressed. File

Congress leader Sachin Pilot’s supporters in the State are in a muddle over his demands calling for action on corruption and exam paper leaks, which remain unaddressed. File | Photo Credit: ANI

Soon after a truce between Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and his former deputy Sachin Pilot was announced in New Delhi, speculation was once again rife here about Mr. Pilot planning to float a new political outfit. However, two of Mr. Pilot’s loyalists refuted the claim and said he had no intention of leaving the Congress.

Following a “fragile compromise” worked out by the Congress leadership, which claimed that the two leaders would fight this year’s Assembly election side-by-side, Mr. Pilot’s supporters in the State are in a muddle over his demands calling for action on corruption and exam paper leaks, which remain unaddressed.

Also Read | Despite Ashok Gehlot-Sachin Pilot truce, key ‘issues’ are yet to be ironed out

The Congress’ State unit is maintaining that there are no divisions within the party and preparations for the Assembly election are underway with the rank and file standing together. However, there is speculation in political circles that Mr. Pilot may announce the launch of a new political party on June 11 – his father Rajesh Pilot’s death anniversary – in Dausa.

After the May 29 truce, he declared that he would not backtrack on issues like corruption and improving the lot of youth. “There will be no compromise on the matter of scandals during the [previous] BJP regime,” Mr. Pilot said in Tonk, from where he was elected MLA in 2018.

Minister of State for Agricultural Marketing Murari Lal Meena has termed the speculation about Mr. Pilot forming his own party baseless. “We are all soldiers of Congress... We will fight [elections] together. Mr. Pilot has no intention of leaving the Congress party,” Mr. Meena told reporters here.

Mr. Meena, who represents the Dausa constituency, is considered a loyalist of Mr. Pilot and accompanied him during his stay at Manesar during the rebellion of 2020. He said a condolence meeting for the late Mr. Rajesh Pilot would be organised in Dausa on June 11 and a statue would be unveiled at a Gujjar hostel.

Editorial | Mission Rajasthan: on the Congress’s internal political troubles

While Mr. Meena said the conjecture about Mr. Pilot forming a new outfit was baseless, another loyalist, Ved Prakash Solanki, Congress MLA from Jaipur’s Chaksu seat, said the party leadership should act swiftly.

Mr. Solanki said Congress workers were confused by the truce enforced in New Delhi and want to know about the future course of action. “We stand with the high command and the Congress party. Positive action on Mr. Pilot’s demands will send across the right message,” he said. Mr. Solanki was among the 18 MLAs who sided with Mr. Pilot during the 2020 crisis.

Mr. Pilot has sought a high-level probe into alleged corruption during the previous Vasundhara Raje-led government, restructuring of the Rajasthan Public Service Commission and compensation to youth affected by the cancellation of recruitment exams because of paper leaks. He conducted a five-day march from Ajmer to Jaipur on these issues last month and sought action by May-end.

All India Congress Committee (AICC) point man for Rajasthan Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa told reporters outside Sanganer airport after his arrival in Jaipur on Tuesday that the party had “devised a formula” for accommodating Mr. Pilot following the truce announced in New Delhi. “We have worked out a formula, but I won’t tell you what it is,” Mr. Randhawa said.

Mr. Randhawa said each Congress leader would be assigned with tasks in the run-up to the Assembly election due in December this year. He will be holding meetings with three AICC leaders to get their feedback after they visits the districts assigned to them during his stay in Jaipur.

Mr. Randhawa dismissed the speculation about Mr. Pilot forming a new party as baseless and said it was all cooked up by the media. “Mr. Pilot is not going to form a new outfit, nor did he ever have any such thought in his mind in the past,” he said, adding that both Mr. Gehlot and Mr. Pilot were “assets for the Congress” and they had agreed to work together for the upcoming Assembly polls.

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