After Gujarat, Congress sees a divided house in Rajasthan. Even as the party high command is set to project Pradesh Congress Committee chief Sachin Pilot as the chief ministerial face, former CM Ashok Gehlot’s faction continues to make representations to go to the polls under his leadership. “Ashok Gehlot deserves to be in Rajasthan, where he still has a large following instead of being made incharge of Gujarat, where he hardly holds any sway over the electorate,” a worker from Gehlot’s camp maintained. “Though Sachin Pilot is young and doing well on the ground, he needs more time to mature as a leader and be accepted by the various communities in a state, where politics is caste dominated.”
Pilot, who has been at the helm of affairs in Rajasthan for the past four years, has spinned the narrative from caste to issues like employment, farmers’ woes etc. With party vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s strong backing, Pilot has spearheaded several campaigns, roping in the Gandhi family scion to interact with the electorate. Despite the frequent representations from supporters, the party high command is determined to project Pilot as the face of the Congress in the 2018 Assembly polls, a senior party functionary said.
“Gehlot has served for two terms. If his work was so great why wasn’t he re-elected? There are BJP CMs who, despite strong anti-incumbency, have been in power for three terms. It is time for new leadership to be cultivated in the state. Gehlot’s experience is being used by the party and we are going to the polls in Gujarat under his guidance,” said the functionary. “As the president of the state unit, I will be doing great disservice to the post if I don’t make good use of the decades of experience gained by our leaders. There are no camps here. We are a team and are committed to ousting the BJP. Every leader does realise that if we clamour for posts compromising on the party’s prospects, it will be very foolish. If the party does not win, then no individual will matter anyway,” Pilot told Mail Today.
“Had we been in a cushy position or if we had no hope of winning at all, then the bickering for individual gains would not have affected our prospects. Right now, we are well on our way to coming back to power and the party is in the reckoning to form the government next year. Had senior leaders like Ashok Gehlot, CP Joshi, Girija Vyas and the others not supported me, we would not have come this far,” Pilot added.