Sachin Pilot, a seasoned politician, played a significant role in ousting the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) from power in Rajasthan during the 2018 assembly elections. As the President of the Rajasthan Congress, he devised strategies and implemented them meticulously across the state. After the election victory, he became embroiled in a fierce rivalry with his senior colleague Ashok Gehlot, who won the confidence of the high command led by Sonia Gandhi and became the chief minister. Pilot compromised with the post of Deputy CM, which upset him and his supporters.
The Gehlot-Pilot Rivalry
The rivalry between Gehlot and Pilot continued, resulting in a war of words and allegations against each other. The bitterness crossed limits in July 2020 when a distraught Sachin Pilot along with 18 MLAs reached a hotel in Haryana, leading to speculations of a coup engineered by the BJP. However, Congress managed to avoid a breakaway, and Sachin Pilot lost the post of state party president and deputy CM. Nevertheless, the rivalry did not end there.
Pilot’s Current Rebel Mode and Possible Strategies
Just before the assembly elections, Sachin Pilot observed a one-day fast against the Gehlot government, pressuring action against some people who indulged in corruption during the BJP rule. It is difficult to decode Pilot’s hidden strategies at this point of time, but he may play four possible cards in the coming days.
Forming a New Party: He may form his own regional party to appease his supporters, which could enable him to target both the Gehlot-led Congress and the BJP. He may talk to BJP or Congress after the elections, and if there is a hung assembly, he may even get the chief minister’s post, although this is a speculative theory.
Jumping Ship and Playing the Kingmaker: With the space for Sachin Pilot in the state unit likely to shrink further, he may choose to be a turncoat and join the BJP, as his close friend and former colleague Jyotiraditya Scindia did in Madhya Pradesh. If BJP’s internal survey shows him losing the election battle, they may take him with them and make him the kingmaker or even the Chief Minister.
Staying Put: Pilot may choose to stay in the Congress, as he is close to the new generation leadership of the party – Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra. The Gandhi siblings may use their good rapport with Pilot to persuade him to stay with the party, and he may even get the promise of the CM post, which seems impossible as of now.
Keeping Cards Close: Pilot may resort to the status quo on his plans, leaving his rivals guessing about his next move. He can open his cards after the election and pick up the best offer. If two dozen or more of his loyal candidates win the election, he may have more bargaining power.
The future of Sachin Pilot and Congress in Rajasthan remains uncertain. Pilot’s rebellion mode just before the crucial assembly elections may hurt the Congress’s prospects, but it may also be a bargaining tactic. The Congress may need Sachin Pilot and his loyalists’ support to form the government, and he may demand a better deal this time. However, if Pilot chooses to form his own party or join the BJP, it could lead to a split in the anti-BJP vote and benefit the BJP. The coming days will be crucial in deciding the fate of Pilot and the Congress in Rajasthan politics.