Rajasthan's Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot's Delhi tour has created a political buzz in the state even as his power tussle with CM Ashok Gehlot rages on. Pilot is meeting all prominent party leaders and especially those considered close to Ashok Gehlot in Delhi. Given the storm in the Congress party since its huge defeat in the recent Lok Sabha elections, including Rahul Gandhi’s decision to quit as party president, there is considerable unrest in party corridors from Delhi to Jaipur.
Besides being Deputy CM, Sachin Pilot is also state party President and he has been staying in Delhi for the past three days. On Saturday, he met Punjab CM, Amrinder Singh in Delhi’s Kapurthala house. Before this, he also held a meeting with the Congress In charge for Rajasthan, Avinash Pandey and the Organisational General Secretary of the Congress, K C Venugopal.
Earlier, Pilot had also met AK Antony and Gulam Nabi Azaad. Interestingly, most of these senior leaders are considered close to Sachin’s rival in Rajasthan, Ashok Gehlot. Until now, only Gehlot as CM has been making regular trips to Delhi as when he recently greeted Rahul Gandhi on his birthday and even met Ahmed Patel considered close to Gandhi family.
Political observers say that Pilot is taking a leaf out of Gehlot’s tactics and is making a special effort to reach out to party leaders in Delhi in order to raise his own political stature. As a senior journalist and former professor at Rajasthan University, Narayan Bareth says: “When a leader tries to compete with another, he often makes his competitor a role model and feels that he too can achieve the same stature as his rival."
"But in the long run, a person is successful only if he has a strong grassroots backing and long track record of political commitment or good at political marketing ” he further added.
However, Rahul Gandhi's resignation has put a lot of pressure on Congress office bearers across the country and with many sending in their resignations, there’s considerable stress on those holding top posts even in Rajasthan. As an air of uncertainty prevails in the party, there is a buzz that Ashok Gehlot may be made the Congress national president.
With Sachin Pilot completing five years as state Congress Chief, there is uncertainty about his continuance also. In Madhya Pradesh, CM Kamal Nath has already offered to give up his post of Party President. Experts say even Sachin Pilot is now under moral pressure to quit as state Congress chief - and his trip is being linked to save his chair.
After the Congress win in the assembly elections in December last year, there was a major tug-of-war between Gehlot and Pilot for the CM post in which Gehlot pipped Pilot who had to be satisfied with being a Dy CM. But now his trip Pilot supporters are feeling enthusiastic at Pilots Delhi trip. As one of his loyalists asserts: “ Pilot has been a central minister, he’s very popular with the youth. He has lots of potentials to take the party forward in Rajasthan.”
As senior journalist Bareth says: “When there is a political vacuum, many leaders try their luck to raise their stature. In the Congress party too, several leaders are currently making a bid to get more attention and acquire a greater national stature.”