At loggerheads with Ashok Gehlot, Sachin Pilot is angry. Here’s why
Three days ago, Rajasthan plunged into a political crisis when Special Operations Group (SOG) registered a case of sedition in an alleged attempt to topple the Ashok Gehlot government. The FIR was based on interception of two mobile phones. Two people, whose numbers were intercepted, have been arrested and the SOG has issued notices to Gehlot, deputy chief minister Sachin deputy Pilot, chief whip Mahesh Joshi and some legislators to record their statements in the case.
Pilot left for Delhi on Friday and at least seven Congress legislators also reached the capital at different times. All of them are first-time MLAs. The presence of Pilot and Congress MLAs in Delhi fuelled speculations that there was an attempt to topple CM Gehlot but people close to Pilot said the deputy CM went to bargain hard with the party leadership because he felt sidelined in the state government.
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The problem with them started after Congress won the December 2018 Assembly elections and instead of Pilot, who had steered the party to victory, Gehlot was named the CM. After that, both of them have targeted each other in a subtle manner, without naming each other.
The latest trigger was the issue of the Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) chief. Pilot has been party president in the state for a long time and there’s talk of appointing someone else on the post to follow ‘one person, one post’ rule. People close to Pilot say he wants either his man in the saddle after him or an important portfolio.
Before this, during the recent bureaucratic reshuffle of IAS and IPS officers, political commentators said Pilot didn’t get even a single officer of his choice posted. “Forget about IAS and IPS officers, he cannot even get a BDO (Block Development Officer) transferred or posted,” said one of the commentators who didn’t want to be named.
The buzz in the state bureaucratic circles is that Pilot has differences with bureaucrats in his departments, especially in the public works department (PWD). Political appointments are also due in the state and Pilot, obviously, wants some of his people accommodated.
But, there has been friction between the two top leaders since the time of the government formation, which had led to a delay in the formation of the state government. The Congress party leaders said that after much persuasion, Pilot was able to get the post of deputy chief minister and some important departments. Pilot also had to bargain a lot to get some ministerial berths for legislators considered close to him.
Since the government was formed in 2018, Gehlot and Pilot had been at loggerheads. Both Gehlot and Pilot have passed comments against each other without taking each other’s names on several occasions. Pilot had questioned his own government over the death of 107 children in a government-run hospital in Kota and had also repeatedly raised the issue of no meeting of the coordination committee constituted by Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi to iron out differences between him and Gehlot.
Political analyst Narayan Bareth said that there is a process in the political system and you have to invest time and hard work to reach a post. “Sachin Pilot is angry because he wants a lot of things in very less time. He is the state party chief, deputy chief minister holding various portfolios. Just like party invested in Ashok Gehlot, the Congress is also investing in Pilot,” Bareth said.