Truce may be in sight in Rajasthan Congress

Sachin Pilot denies factionalism, says new Cabinet appointments to be made soon.

Updated - November 12, 2021 10:26 pm IST

Published - November 12, 2021 10:22 pm IST - New Delhi, Jaipur:

Ashok Gehlot and Sachin Pilot.

Ashok Gehlot and Sachin Pilot.

Senior Congress leader Sachin Pilot indicated on Friday that a truce may be in sight between him and Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot over the Cabinet reshuffle in the State, after a 45-minute long meeting with Congress president Sonia Gandhi.

This was Mr. Pilot’s first meeting with Ms. Gandhi since his July 2020 rebellion, when he nearly walked out of the Congress with 18 MLAs, pushing the Gehlot government in Rajasthan to a brink.

Ms. Gandhi also had a meeting with Mr. Gehlot on Thursday.

Speaking to reporters at the end of the meeting, Mr. Pilot said that a decision would be taken very soon. “There are a few vacancies in the State Cabinet which need to be filled and a balance needs to be set,” he said. He hoped that the appointments would be made keeping in mind experience, credibility, performance, and regional and caste balance.

There are currently nine vaccines in the Rajasthan Cabinet. If the party goes by the “one-man, one post” formula, which Mr. Pilot is insisting upon, three Ministers from the current Cabinet will be dropped. Education Minister Govind Singh Dotasra is the Pradesh Congress Committee president; Health Minister Raghu Sharma was recently appointed All India Congress Committee (AICC) in-charge of Gujarat; and Revenue Minister Harish Chaudhary was made in-charge of Punjab.

The key question pertains to Mr. Pilot’s own role in a post-reshuffle scenario. Mr. Gehlot, according to sources, is not willing to give him the Deputy Chief Minister’s post back. As a compromise formula, the Central leadership is expected to offer him a role with the party in Delhi.

When asked specifically whether he would be willing to take on such a responsibility, Mr. Pilot said, “Whatever the Congress party wants me to do, I am more than happy to do. In the last 20 years, whatever job has been assigned, I have done it diligently and now also, whatever the party decides, what role I should have...I am happy to do it.”

The Ashok Gehlot government will be completing three years on December 17. Mr. Pilot has argued that if Congress wants to break the trend of alternating power with the Bharatiya Janata Party, then the workers who have “put in sweat and blood to get the Gehlot government in place” need to be rewarded.

Mr. Pilot sought to underplay the delay in the Cabinet reshuffle, which he has now been demanding for more than a year. “I think whatever changes that need to be made in the government and organisation, the AICC and the Chief Minister will decide at an appropriate time. But I believe that now less than two years’ time is left to the next election,” he said.

He also denied any factionalism, calling it largely a creation of the media. “For a very long time now, the media has been reporting about this camp and that camp. Let me tell you, we are all Congress and we won on the Congress symbol. There is no ‘you and me’, we are moving together in Rajasthan.”

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