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The Rajasthan Political Crisis : Ambition Over Ideology?

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With the attempt of destabilizing a democratically elected government in Rajasthan, while many believe that Sachin Pilot has crashed his own political journey, there are some political pundits who are of the opinion that this redirected trajectory will help in putting pressure and meeting up his demands.

Sachin Pilot, the Deputy Chief Minister, and State Congress Chief of Rajasthan till Tuesday, 14th July 2020 now no longer holds any position in the Indian National Congress(INC). Before coming to the story of Rajasthan, it is significant to consider the impact of Sachin Pilot and who he really is in the context of Rajasthan. Currently aged 42, Pilot is the son of former Union Minister of India Rajesh Pilot who was also a member of the INC. Coming from a privileged family and having done MBA from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, USA, he was first elected as a Member of Parliament at an age 26 from Dausa constituency in Rajasthan. The journey just begins from here as he was given the command of the Congress Rajasthan unit in 2014 at an age of 36 when the Congress was wiped out in both the state assembly and General elections. When the Congress returned to power in December 2018, he was made the Deputy Chief Minister of the state at the age of 40.

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The power dynamics of Rajasthan have been shifting between the 2 major power centres – Ashok Gehlot and Sachin Pilot for over one and a half years now. The trouble began after the Congress managed to win the 2018 Rajasthan elections. Speculations were raised over the issue that who will be the new Chief Minister. It was an established fact that Gehlot was a veteran who had been loyal to the Gandhis since the time of Indira Gandhi while it was Pilot who really worked hard in the elections to make the Congress win the elections. Many journalists believed that as Rahul Gandhi was the chief of the Congress Party at that time, he would give someone young to lead the state but it did not happen.

It is a construct in the Congress that the end decision is always taken by the main power centre-The Gandhis. When Pilot and Gehlot both arrived in New Delhi to meet Rahul Gandhi, Pilot was accompanied by his mother who was in a wheelchair at that time. His aim was clear. He had worked hard and he wanted to be the Chief Minister. But in both Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, the Party chose experience over youth energy, and both Pilot and Jyotiraditya Scindia (Madhya Pradesh) were sidelined. The former got the post of the deputy CM, the latter did not even get that.

More clashes arose when the Congress Party was shell shocked in the 2019 General Elections as they failed to win a single seat in the same state in which it formed a full majority government some 4-5 months ago. The Pilot group started blaming the Gehlot group and vice versa. It became that groupism was at its peak and there was something fishing in between.

The open revolt by Rajasthan Sachin Pilot barely four months after Jyotiraditya Scindia quit, has once again brought into focus the Congress’s leadership battles across multiple States. From Punjab to Haryana, Himachal Pradesh to Chhattisgarh, there is simmering discontent among leaders who are ready to challenge the State leadership, threatening to split wide open. Though Pilot claims to have the support of 30 Congress MLAs, it is visible that he has the support of 17 MLAs, including himself and three Independents.

Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot called for an all MLA meeting on the morning of 13th July 2020. As pictures show, it was attended by 100 Congress MLAs which is sufficient for the majority mark. Sachin Pilot even came to Delhi and had long discussions with senior Congress leaders may be in order to persuade them to submit to his demands or otherwise face the repercussions. But, after Monday’s meeting, it is unambiguous to say that he was outplayed and exposed in his own way by the Rajasthan CM.

Speculations also arose on whether Pilot would join the BJP just like his former mate Scindia but he has not had a meeting with any BJP leaders so far. BJP had told in an official statement that it would welcome Pilot if he wished to join them. The party has also demanded a floor test in Rajasthan.

Even if the floor test happens, it is evident that with the amount of trust and numbers that Gehlot has consolidated, he would make it through the test. The Congress government is likely to have the support of 100 MLAs, below the majority mark in the 200-member assembly.

Even if the 17 MLAs are expelled, then under the rules of parliament, they can form an independent block and even join the BJP and vote against the government during a trust vote in the assembly. But if the party disqualifies them ahead of a trust vote, it would bring down the majority mark, which currently stands at 101. If the 17 rebel MLAs are to be disqualified under the anti-defection law, the halfway mark will slip to 92. Congress alone is expected to have at least 90 MLAs and with the support of two CPM MLAs, Mr. Gehlot can win the trust vote. In this situation, he would not need the support of any of the 10 Independent MLAs or the two MLAs of the Bharatiya Tribal Party, which has withdrawn support to the Congress.

The Congress Party has already taken action against the rebel MLAs by who planted this coup on the command of the BJP as they claim, by removing them from the Party. Pilot has been sacked too from Deputy CM and State Congress Chief. The MLAs however have said that they had not done anything which is against the party and had only raised concerns over the functioning of the current government. They claimed that their only demand was to make people realize the inefficiency of the Gehlot government. They were never against the party, neither did they want to destabilize the government.

The same Sachin Pilot 4 months back, urged Scindia to think and come back to the party. Today, whatever the reasons are, he is himself betraying the party which he only believed had given him everything. This is politics. It would not be shocking if he chooses to go to the BJP now as he has already removed Congress MLA from his twitter bio and after being sacked tweeted- “Truth can be harassed but it can never be defeated.”- the same thing which Scindia tweeted after leaving the Congress.

It will be wrong to say that ideology and loyalty do not matter in politics. They do matter until and unless they are provided with a suitable cost. It is ultimately the power that counts.

Image Source – Wire

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