Congress insiders indicate that “communication” between the party high command and Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot has reduced or rather “completely stopped” after the crucial Rajasthan polls strategy meeting of the party held last month.
The Gandhis are said to be on a wait and watch approach over Rajasthan’s political activities. At the same time, the grand old party’s present leadership comprising Malikarjun Kharge also seems to be complying with the Gandhis and this has resulted in “lost communication” between the high command and Gehlot.
However, in electoral territories where leaders are not going along well with each other, his (Kharge’s) main role has been pushing for peace. He may have convinced Sachin Pilot of the perils of rigidity of ambitions in politics, thus persuading him to come into national politics. However, the clouds of doubt continue to loom over Rajasthan due to distance between Gehlot and the high command.
Party insiders claim that the Congress high command is not keen on Ashok Gehlot and suggest that the matter between them is interpreted as high command saying “let him (Gehlot) do what he is doing” which displays a sense of less concern by the top brass towards the Gehlot-run state cadre.
At the same time, there is also a belief in national leaders of the party that Gehlot has the potential to break the jinx of swing state status of Rajasthan as internal reports of the party suggest that the people want to bring him back after he offered a flurry of public welfare schemes.
A party insider said, “There are around 38 sitting Congress MLAs who are facing a lot of anti-incumbency. Thus, the party could also refrain from giving them tickets which would eventually get the party’s act together. However, if BJP unleashes its political weaponry and brings Vasundhara Raje at the helm of its affairs in Rajasthan, the battle between the two national parties could be interesting.”
However, a section of Congressmen is wary, presuming that a situation could occur in Rajasthan akin to what happened in Punjab which led the high command to exercise its extreme powers by forcing veteran leader Amarinder Singh to resign from the party.
A party insider said, “By the silence between the high command and state leadership (Gehlot), it can be viewed that if the situation continues, they (the high command) can act in a similar way, but they might not be able to do it before Assembly elections. There may be some chances of it happening after elections, only if the vacuum grows and Gehlot continues to show cold shoulder to the Gandhi family.”
Party insiders suggest that the Gandhis have been in favour of Sachin Pilot and wanted Pilot to spearhead the Rajasthan cadre, but there is also an understanding from the Gandhis side as well as from Pilot that till Gehlot is in the political frame of the state, he (Gehlot) would not want any other person to wish for ascension or even try to be in a position which could ultimately undermine his iron-fist hold over the state cadre.
A senior party insider in AICC wanting Gehlot to continue in his position and be the CM face of elections said, “There isn’t much capability seen in Pilot to run the state like Gehlot has done it. He may falter in governance and the brunt will have to be borne by the Congress brand. Therefore, it is good for the party to continue with Gehlot as a face.”