‘Choices and likings of Sonia, Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra are different’.


NEW DELHI: Months after the Ashok Gehlot-led crisis in Rajasthan Congress, the leadership tussle between Sachin Pilot and Gehlot, which apparently saw an increase before the entry of the Bharat Jodo Yatra in the state, seems to have paused. Though the Pilot camp has called for a ceasefire at the moment, the future of both the leaders is caught between the three power-centres of the Gandhis (Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra) whose choices and likings, according to party leaders, are different.
A senior leader in the AICC said, “Both the leaders are dedicated to the Congress; yet both have their ambitions. Gehlot wants to stay at the top and Pilot wants the position desperately. Therefore, the high command is not doing any balancing act. It is as it is for now. They have spent a long time in the party. So they are currently not trying to disturb the status quo.”
However, there are various perceptions held by the party’s senior leaders. They believe the Gandhis are practicing a “political carrot and stick approach” by letting Sonia Gandhi back Gehlot, while, as on the other hand, the younger Gandhis are sticking with Pilot and comforting him to create an equilibrium within the party and avoid displeasure of both the leaders. Others believe, the Gandhis are avoiding hit-and-run decision which could destabilize one of its three governments in the country (Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Himachal Pradesh), out of which two (Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh) are poll bound next year.
Pilot may have maintained his calm yet his camp is now, alongside the yatra, raging against the irresoluteness of the national leadership and has voiced anti-Gehlot sentiments in some pockets where Pilot is powerful. A political analyst said, “He can either push younger Gandhis to make rapid decision and succeed or he can opt for wait and watch approach meanwhile strengthening his position.”
Sources say, Pilot has taken this Yatra as an opportunity to project himself as a popular leader and he has somewhat become successful in that.
A Congress leader said, “Delaying the solution to the problem may wrap the party out of controversies for now but could implode at any point where the interests of both the leaders clash again.”
However, on the face of it, the current bon-homie between the Pilot and Gehlot is seen as a temporary truce only to last till the yatra ends. On Sunday, Gehlot in an interview to a media channel while referring to the ‘gaddar’ comment, which he had made before the advent of yatra in the state said, “Such incidents and accidents often happen in politics. Time fixes everything.”
Senior leaders within the party speculate that in order to keep the high command relevant and reemphasise its credibility a decision could be made in favour of Pilot. Simultaneously, within the Gehlot camp, there is confidence that the recent Assembly bypoll victory in Sardarshaharin is a people’s seal on the Gehlot government’s good governance and public welfare schemes, and removing him would be a disaster.