With the ouster of young Congress leader Sachin Pilot from the posts of deputy chief minister and President of Pradesh Congress Committee in Rajasthan, the crisis that arose in state politics and the government can be said to have ended temporarily.
Till a few days ago, the impression given by events in the state was that the chief ministership of Ashok Gehlot and even Congrss rule in Rajasthan were on the way out. Speculation was rife that Sachin Pilot would topple the ministry with the support of 17 dissident MLA's and cappture power with BJP support. Thus the stage appeared to be getting set for a re-enactment of the drama that happened in Madhya Pradesh four months ago. In Madhya Pradesh, Jyothiraditya Sindhya not only pulled the rug from under the feet of senior party leader and chief minister Kamal Nath, but went to join BJP and then get elected as member of Rajya Sabha. That also paved the way for Shivran Singh Chauhan, who had had lost the bid to become legislator for a fourth time, to become chief minister again. But in Rajasthan, albeit for now the toppling bid has been thwarted. Gehlot looks able to maintain the support of at least 106 members of the 200-member assembly and retain power. In addition, he has been successful in keeping at bay the constant headache and challenger Sachin. How he was able to clinch this, is a question whose answer is just beginning to emerge.
Most of the elected Congress members of the legislature were in support of Gehlot against rival Sachin, and that was how he became chief minister. Subsequently, despite the stiff intra-party tussle, Sachin could not dent the support enjoyed by Gehlot, as it is proved now. Sachin, with a record of having become a member of parlilament at the age of 26, and soon thereafter central minister and most recently PCC president together with holding chief ministership, achieved all this through the Congress. But the impatience of the son of the much respected Rajesh Pilot, to wait for a few years more with Gehlot, who had a tradition in the party and popularity, apparently has caused his undoing and that too without much sympathy. Although the Nehru family went out of their way to keep him in good cheer with offers of the best posts, he did not budge at all, an attitude sure to be judged as obstinacy and boundless ambition for power.
One possible factor that prevented his greed from fructifying may be the cautionary approach of the BJP. The failure of tactics tried by Amit Shah in Maharashtra by isolating Ajit Pawar from NCP and pushing him to the forefront which tottered at the last moment, may have forced the saffron outfit not to try that game again for the time being. It has become a routine in national politics led by the BJP to resort to defection, floor-crossing, toppling and hoisting a cobbled cabinet and spending hundreds of crores of rupees for them. In such a background, there is no guarantee that the latest events in Rajasthan will alone save the Congress for long. Even in this situation, the party on which a large section of the people of the country pin their hopes against the far right rule – which moves from one evil to another and from one injustice to another – is the Congress.
Congress party which rules the states of Punjab, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Puduchery, and shares power in Maharashtra and Jhharkhand, is the party with the largest number of seats in parliament. If led at the helm by a national leader with far sight, uprightness and vigour, this is a party that can still stage a come back, as hoped by committed votaries of secular democracy. But its leaders are turning their back to such aspirations of the people. Given the decades long tradition in Indian National Congress that it takes none else than a member of the Nehru family alone to lead it - however much this is unjustifiable in a democracy - it cannot move forward without admitting that either Rahul or Sonia Gandhi has to lead the party. Sonia is forced to take rest due to her age and ill health. But the situation hitherto is that Rahul Gandhi, who resigned following the severe set back suffered by the party in the Lok Sabha election, will not come forward to take up the role again or even let it be given to his sister Priyanka. He may be afraid of the deceits by senior leaders in states. Even senior lawyer and party leader Kapil Sibal had to grumble in a tweet: "worried for our party. Will we wake up only after the horses have bolted from our stables?" Sibal's lamentation came in the background of Sindhya and Sachin having left the nest. When even the strongman in Punjab, Amarinder Singh is facing the menace of dissidents, the question is whether the party leadership will listen to Kapil's introspection with the seriousness it deserves.