JAIPUR/BHOPAL: In a tactical move, the Congress has drafted Sachin Pilot, the former rebel leader from Rajasthan, to help the party fight its battle in the crucial Madhya Pradesh Assembly by-elections in BJP stronghold’s Chambal-Gwalior belt.
The strategist in Kamal Nath, the former chief minister who is also MP Congress chief, has twin-objectives in mind: test Pilot’s renewed loyalty to the party while taking the fight right into the BJP camp in a region which has a sizeable vote share of the Gujjars, a community Pilot belongs to.
Sources say the MP Congress hopes that the Pilot factor would work on the Gujjar community and wean away some prominent leaders from the BJP, including a former state minister or his son. Pilot will have to campaign against his old friend Jyotiraditya Scindia, who switched to the BJP early this year. However, Pilot’s exact programme is yet to be chalked out as the Election Commission is still to declare dates for the bypolls, to be held simultaneously with the Bihar Assembly election.
As many as 28 by-elections are due in Madhya Pradesh, and 25 of them are caused by the Scindia camp walking across to the BJP. The Congress is highlighting “betrayal” of the rebels to woo voters in the region. “The Pilot family’s association with MP politics isn’t new. Sachin ji campaigned in MP in the previous polls and his father Rajesh Pilot had helped the party in the state decades back.
Sachin ji is one of our biggest star campaigners and he will extensively campaign for the party candidates in the entire Gwalior-Chambal region,” said MP Congress’s spokesperson Bhupendra Gupta. Out of the 28 by-elections, 16 are in the Gwalior-Chambal region. The Gujjars can influence the outcome in more than half-a-dozen seats of Bhind, Morena, Datia and Gwalior districts. The Gwalior-Chambal belt is also the home turf of Jyotiraditya Scindia whose meeting with Sachin Pilot during the recent Rajasthan political crisis had sparked speculation of the former Rajasthan deputy CM joining hands with the BJP.