Wednesday, 29 June, 2022
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Why it’s unfair to blame Ashok Gehlot or Congress for Sachin Pilot’s unreasonable ambitions 

The Congress did its best to accommodate Sachin Pilot, but he’s been restless and greedy without even having the support of enough MLAs to be in a bargaining position. 

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Sachin Pilot is not joining the BJP after all, he has made it clear. He makes it sound like that’s coming out of some commitment to the Congress party. It is obvious, however, that Pilot couldn’t gather the support of enough MLAs to be of any use to the BJP.

When Pilot fled Jaipur, he first claimed he had the support of 30 MLAs, which would have brought the Ashok Gehlot government below the majority mark. However, sitting in a hotel in BJP-ruled Haryana, Pilot probably couldn’t gather the support of any more than the 15 MLAs who had travelled with him. For the BJP to have any play in the game, it needed at least 30 to rebel.

The Pilot rebellion has thus turned out to be a damp squib. It has also shown that all those who were blaming the Congress party for not being able to manage the differences between Ashok Gehlot and Sachin Pilot were wrong. In fact, this is one case where the Congress party did well from beginning to end.

Also read: Worked hard to defeat BJP, won’t join it, says Sachin Pilot after Congress action against him

A stitch in time

On Tuesday, the Congress sacked Sachin Pilot from the posts of deputy chief minister and Rajasthan Pradesh Congress Committee president. There was something unusual about this: the party usually waits passively for events to unfold and suffer their consequences.

In Madhya Pradesh, Kamal Nath and Digvijaya Singh looked on as Jyotiraditya Scindia pulled the rug from under their feet. By contrast, Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot in Rajasthan acted in time and prevented Sachin Pilot from doing a Scindia.

It is strange that the people who were criticising the Congress party for not being able to save its government in Madhya Pradesh are now criticising the Congress party for trying to save its government in Rajasthan.

The myth of Pilot’s achievement

There’s a myth that Sachin Pilot was the reason why the Congress won Rajasthan in 2018 — and thus deserved to be made chief minister.

It is well known that voters in Rajasthan like to flip between the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) every five years. It’s called turning the roti, lest it burns. This idea is so ingrained in the minds of Rajasthan’s voters that the state’s assembly election is too boring to cover.

In 2018, it was the Congress party’s turn anyway. Besides, the BJP was adamant on making its own chief minister, Vasundhara Raje Scindia, lose badly. BJP-RSS cadres were so vehemently opposed to her that they would openly raise slogans against her in rallies and nobody seemed to stop them.

For a victory so inevitable, the Congress should have won a two-thirds majority. But under Sachin Pilot’s leadership, the party won just 99 of 200 seats — the BJP won 73. Instead of taking this as a sign of failure, Sachin Pilot claimed credit for the victory and threatened rebellion if he wasn’t made chief minister. His supporters even took to vandalism.

Also read: Covid delayed Sachin Pilot’s revolt, he had planned exit in March, Congress insiders claim

Why Gehlot deserved to be CM

The 2018 assembly election was a contest between Gehlot-sponsored candidates and Pilot-sponsored candidates, whether or not they were contesting from a Congress ticket. As more Gehlot-allied MLAs won, Sachin Pilot automatically lost the claim to the chief minister’s chair, morally and politically. The idea that Sachin Pilot was key to why Congress won Rajasthan is a myth created by the liberal English media in Delhi, which is shamefully biased in favour of Pilot.

This was a poor reflection on Pilot as a politician. Pilot’s case is that he deserved to be CM because he worked hard in the state for five years, but Gehlot has been working for nearly 50 years. Despite having a free run in Rajasthan as Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) chief for five years, with Gehlot busy in national politics, Pilot couldn’t displace him as the numero uno Congress leader in public perception in the state.

Pilot accepted the compromise formula, or did he?

Keeping this situation in mind, the Congress high command made sure Sachin Pilot was made deputy chief minister with not one or two, but five key portfolios. Against the principle of one leader-one post, Pilot was also allowed to retain the powerful political post of PCC chief. Besides, some of the MLAs loyal to him were also made ministers.

This was in stark contrast to Madhya Pradesh, where Jyotiraditya Scindia, having rejected the deputy CM’s post, found himself completely sidelined by the Kamal Nath-Digvijaya Singh duo. These two seniors wouldn’t even let him have a Rajya Sabha seat. Pilot, by contrast, got more than what he deserved.

Instead of being grateful and content, he positioned himself against the chief minister from day one. 

Ever since he moved to Rajasthan after 2014, Pilot split the party into two. Every worker had to choose whether they were in the Pilot camp or the Gehlot camp. As deputy CM, he continued to act as the challenger rather than a member of the government. Ashok Gehlot was forced to answer in the same language. Pilot would have been wise to bury the hatchet with Gehlot, but chose not to do so, hoping to destabilise the government and become chief minister by hook or crook.

After the fall of the Congress government in Madhya Pradesh, Sachin Pilot clearly took some inspiration from Jyotiraditya Scindia.

Also read: Sachin Pilot sacked as Rajasthan Dy CM & state Congress chief, says ‘truth can’t be defeated’

Who made the first move?

There’s a narrative that Ashok Gehlot ‘laid a trap’ for Sachin Pilot, ‘baiting’ him to a situation where he had no option but to exit. The story begins with the Rajya Sabha elections last month. As is well known, the BJP tries to move in on MLAs to win as many Rajya Sabha seats as possible. Both Congress and BJP put their MLAs in resorts before the Rajya Sabha elections. Ashok Gehlot alleged the same poaching was taking place in Rajasthan. Sachin Pilot met the Congress high command in Delhi, after which the rebellion was postponed.

Meanwhile, the Rajasthan police intercepted phone calls between individuals allegedly associated with the BJP, where horse-trading was allegedly being discussed. Two individuals were arrested. Since the phone calls allegedly suggested that Sachin Pilot was negotiating with the BJP, he was summoned by the Rajasthan Police’s Special Operations Group or SOG. This summon notice is being portrayed as undue aggression by Ashok Gehlot that left Sachin Pilot with no choice but to leave.

This narrative presenting Ashok Gehlot as the aggressor presumes that Sachin Pilot was innocent and did not attempt toppling his own government. To believe this is a bit naive since Pilot’s response was to immediately make public his efforts to topple the government, refuse to attend Congress meetings despite a whip, and move to BJP-ruled Haryana MLAs loyal to him.

Pilot is making the SOG notice look like an affront but it doesn’t accuse him of anything, only seeks his co-operation in an investigation. If he has nothing to hide, why run away?

It was Pilot who made the first move, Gehlot has merely defended his fort. The police investigation into horse-trading charges, armed with the evidence of intercepted phone calls, was Ashok Gehlot’s attempts to save his own government.

Also read: CM Gehlot lists 5 reasons why Congress took the ‘sad’ decision on Sachin Pilot

A general who overestimates the size of his army

Everyone’s favourite whipping boy, the Congress party, has got a lot of flak for not being able to manage the differences between Ashok Gehlot and Sachin Pilot. However, it is by now clear that the Congress actually managed the tussle well, giving Sachin Pilot a long rope.

Ashok Gehlot has exposed how Pilot had been holding the Congress party to ransom without even having the bargaining power to do so. Unlike his friends in the Delhi media who bought his tall claims, the Congress party knew his strength or the lack of it — a mere 15 MLAs.

According to Sachin Pilot’s supporters in Delhi, a man who can’t get the support of more than 15 MLAs somehow deserves to be Rajasthan chief minister, Congress PCC chief, Congress national president, Congress’ prime ministerial face and so on.

The same people who accuse Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi of being entitled, arrogant dynasts are now forced to accept that Sachin Pilot is the same: an entitled, arrogant dynast who thinks the Rajasthan CM’s chair is his birthright.

Sachin Pilot has no casus belli to rebel — he doesn’t have the numbers, Ashok Gehlot is still popular, the election isn’t nigh, and the coronavirus pandemic is the wrong time to be planning to topple one’s own government. In these circumstances, the Congress has, for once, done a good job in trying to save its government from an expansionist BJP.

The author is contributing editor, ThePrint. Views are personal.

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  1. It’s is shocking, the entire is focusing on Gandhi family and Congress. Agreed Congress is counting it’s expiry date . Why the media is not talking on the defectors and so called youngsters changing parties without seeking fresh mandate for changeover.

  2. Dear Shivam,

    A couple of comments from my side.
    1. Since the last 30 years wherever BJP and Congress are in a direct fight in state elections, whenever BJP comes to power it generally comes with a landslide and whenever congress comes to power, it barely manages to do so. Examples Gehlot I in Rajasthan, Vir Bhadra Singh in HP, Digvijay Singh and Kamal Nath in MP, Vijay Bahuguna/ Harish Rawat in Uttarakhand and even Ajt Jogi in Chattisgarh. The only exception is Bhupesh Baghel in Chattisgarh. The BJP examples are Vasundhara Raje, Shivraj Singh Chauhan, Jairam Thakur, Trivendra Singh Rawat & B C Khanduri and the only exception is Raman Singh in CG. So Congress generally gets a negative vote of BJP rather than a positive vote for itself. When congress reached 99 in Rajasthan it was still a leap from 21 (under Gehlot) to 99 and somebody must be given credit for it.
    2. The general accepted front runner for the top job is either the PCC president or the LoP. Sachin Pilot was handed over the PCC post for that only otherwise what is the point. The same way Kamal Nath had a claim to the top job in MP because he was the PCC president and so the front runner the same logic with Bhupesh Baghel.
    3. Gehlot having more MLAs loyal to him is just the nature of the distribution of tickets and who ends up winning. The logic that Sachin Pilot should have his loyalists in the PCC top to bottom is what someone of his generation avoids doing i.e. creating a personality cult which is not how you grow a party.
    4. To say that Sachin pilot was impatient and he will get his chance sometime in the future is missing the point . Once as a leader you compromise then it is a slippery slope in the rough and tumble of Congress politics. Either you take a stand now or forget about the top job. Jaganmohan reddy did that and now he is the CM. if he had stayed back then he would have been finished politically along with his father’s legacy as well.
    This was the time to act for Sachin Pilot and in order to achieve something you have to take risks. You win some, you lose some but status quo does not work if someone is highly ambitious.



  3. Nicely written. I share the same thoughts! I liked Sachin Pilot a lot but he has been a huge disappointment. Toppling your own govt WHILE being the state chief is political fraud. In other democracies one gets arrested for this, with no career revival.

  4. Absolutely biased article. Whole basis of pilot bashing is that he was not able to muster support of enough MLA’s. If he had been successful, he would have been a hero.

  5. It is strange that the people who were criticising the Congress party for not being able to save its government in Madhya Pradesh are now criticising the Congress party for trying to save its government in Rajasthan.

    That has always been the case – even with Shivam Vij’s articles – congress must do everything by the book, be secular, take everyone along, apologise for historical mistakes, give constructive criticism, give utmost respect to the govt and still be criticised relentlessly while ruling party can play as many dirty tricks as it wishes to with impunity and be called Chanakya.

  6. Cong is most corrupt party , and Rahul has failed to improve the situation so far,

    However, its ironic that People dont like( and rightly so) Rahul for being dynast, however they like and sympethise Scindia and Pilot. This is hypocracy. They both are young, and bright leaders and have done far better than Rahul, but they are also dynasts. So lets have common yard stick and condemn consistently rather than taking political positions.

  7. In fact extra ambitious leaders should be identified and removed from Congress. Look at the long list of extra ambitious young people Congress promoted and then they ditched it. Sharad Pawar, Sangma, Mamta, Jogi, Jagan, Himanta Sarma, Alpesh Thakor, Shindia, Priyanka Cheturvedi, Arif Md Khan, VP Singh, All these were given prominent roles in Congress at a young age. Congress should kick Sachin out..

  8. Writing such piece sends out wrong message, and inflicts poor confidence to hard working youths of the country who expects recognition and support for their work and loyalty.

  9. Nothing but a propagandist article oblivious of details on what was going on between Gehlot and Pilot on the ground. The article doesn’t give any insights into what happened after assembly elections that drove Pilot to take such a drastic action in the end. People in Rajasthan knew it was coming. Gehlot was nowhere to be seen for 5 years in the run-up to the assembly elections except being close to Gandhis. How does The Print allow such lopsided items to be published.

  10. What a pleasure to see Shivam Vij himself praising INC for a change. What happened Mr. Vij? Realised who will fight the fascists?

  11. Care to explain why a 50-year-old Rahul Gandhi with no Ministerial experience is ideal to be the PM but Pilot a disrespectful traitor? Pilot does not get his due because nobody wants him overshadowing the “failed” Pappu Gandhi.

  12. I was actually thinking of subscribing to Print and paying up for the same. But after reading this one sided article, it is clear that Print has received enough money from Gehlot. So Thank you so much & good bye.

  13. Very ridiculous and logic like every five years Rajasthan changes party. So there should be two third majority,Pilot only reach to 101.The fact is opposite.Rajasthan election was fought on the name of Sachin Pilot same as Madhya Pradesh election on the name of Jyotiraditya Sindhiya.After results CM chair to other people was betrayal and wicked deceiving of public and Sachin Pilot both. Sachin problem is he is simple person he focused himself to winning of Congress candidate not choosing the candidates.He totally believed on congress leadership and old guards. These wicked tactics of Congress are very old.That’s why in UP and Bihar Congress has no base. Soon it happend in Bengal and Andhrapradesh and Telangana. Next Congress mukt Pradesh will be Rajasthan if Sachin Pilot continue his public relation skills.Congress days in Rajasthan are numbered now. The writer is totally biased.

  14. I sew media has lot of affecation for sachin but he has bite more than he can chew any rajasthani new that vasundhra became so unpopular that congress return was inevitable
    Frankly congress didnt get kind of majority which was expected ..Indian media is obsessed with sachin madhav or whoever is young smart and speaks good english and has bit of swag .

  15. It’s not a crime to be ambitious especially if you deserve what you long for. Whoever wrote this article has ambition to be a even better writer than what he is today. Like wise Sachin Pilot, the most charismatic and highly intelligent ex-Congress leader is rightly ambitious as he has class and resources to be more than a Chief Minister of a state unlike the present and old Ashok Gehlot.

    • Ambition is not bad if it pushes you to work hard and honestly. If it leads you to cut corner, well, it IS bad. Do you admire Mir Jaffar? He was ambitious.

  16. You are a congress chamcha don’t defend them. Congress is the most fucked up party psudeo secular, illogical and dumb leaders. Sachin pilot should be the president of congress party. Also your article on Income tax proves that how dumb you are.

  17. It seems that both Kamal Nath and Gehlot were trying to push Scindia and Pilot into a corner, and they both rebelled. This strategy works well for the patriarchs. Getting rid of their young rivals protects their positions in the Congress. But it is the party that suffers the consequences. Losing young and ambitious leaders can never be a good thing, especially for the Congress at this juncture.

    The Congress may have done a ‘good job’ saving the government, but did a shoddy job in allowing things to get to this stage. Things are not looking good for the Congress. If Sachin Pilot leaves, it will also be a personal blow to Rahul Gandhi for sure.

  18. Okk if Congress says Sachin was greedy they had given him power at early age then what about Rahul Gandhi?? What are his credentials?? Sachin Pilot had started from roots in Rajasthan, that seat was not his family ground. He was bigger face in Rajasthan Assembly Elections. Whole Congress want Rahul Gandhi, even he was not able to save his family seat this time at elections. Sachin Pilot is of same age as Rahul Gandhi why you don’t say Rahul gandhi is also greedy and power driven? I still believe Sachin Pilot had worked from ground level people had voted in his name.. So next time write an article on greed and family politics of Congress. Thanks 😊

  19. The view of the writer does not seems comprehensive. It seems he is just playing the devils advocate. I agree , Pilot was given more than his due, but he seems to be pushed out by Gehlot. Pilot might be selfish, but Congress need him and cant afford his exit. Gehlot seems to be acting self before all

  20. Are we living in the same world? This reeks of absolutely lutyenism. Thanks but no thanks fo such a ridiculous article.

  21. This article from print is propoganda to malign the image of sachin pilot who had worked hard to regain power in Rajasthan.. I strongly object this article and shows that you are working at the behest of Congress party… There is no difference between godi media and your channel

  22. First time Shivam Correct Analysis 🙂. Gehlot is ( still ) highly popular in Rajasthan . And by the way Roti will have to be eventually turned in next elections 😂. Rajasthanis don’t know why English media backs Sachin , he might have worked hard and a commited politician , but still he needs time to achieve Gehlot’s and Vasundhra’s popularity here .Similar campaign was made in Last assembly elections that people are voting not for Vasundhra but for BJP , that was the trick to sideline .Last Assembly was one of the best years in Government of Vasundhra . But English Media don’t know lives in which space 😁😂🙂

  23. Sachin Pilot takes after his late father Rajesh Pilot who was a political lightweight with extra large ambitions.Senior Pilot became a member of parliament in 1980 but contested the Congress Presidential elections at Mrs Sonia Gandhi’s behest.Sachin’s in laws Abdullahs r pretty cash rich too. Congress promoted likes of as India’s or Pilots who never had to work for their living n could never appreciate the positions given to them.

  24. Stop all these biased reporting
    Sachin pilot deserves CM post and reality is Ashok Gehlot is experienced in sending party funds to congress leadership
    BJP lost the elections and it was a mandate by people of Rajasthan
    Congress got good numbers due to Sachin pilot work when in opposition fighting against Vasundhara Raje

  25. So the author is saying that neither Gahelot or Pilot fought election as Congress candidates but as Gehlot and Pilot candidates. I think both should have been kicked out as party is more important than individuals. The fact is Congress leaders now have no discipline because three Gandhis are unlike Indira Gandhi who used to handle with iron hand are too liberal and hence facing these problems.

  26. A political melodrama in Rajasthan of the GOP.
    Young turk’s action is just the tip of the iceberg or are there more serious and critical elements
    posing challenges to the national opposition party.?
    There could have been earlier instances of leaders moving out of the party to fulfill their political ambitions ,but presently,this should send out differ signals to the GOP’s leadership for pondering.
    Congress has acted smart in this case and now is the time for them to think thru and see how they can cross the bridge,?I t is in the larger interest of the country also as it needs a strong opposition for the polity of Democracy to survive.

  27. I would also request the readers of this coment & ThePrint team, if there is a link between Sachin Pilot’s ‘attempt to benefit BJP’ and release of Omar Abdullah from detention. Could this be sensed as ‘part of the deal’?

    If so, I feel that is shameful on part of Pilot and more on the part of BJP, which claims to be nationalist & maintaining no compromise on national security. State government politics should not reciprocate the issues related to sensitive issues like political situation in Kashmir.

    Readers may reply me, what they think of this.

  28. Can’t believe this is a piece of journalism.
    Looks like someone’s facebook post was copied word by word.
    What crap man !
    What lingo man !
    The guy talks as if Sachin Pilot is his mama and he was consulted by Congress to solve this issue. Arrogance and misplaced self confidence !

  29. A weak government is not a very good situation for a country but a weak/ non existent opposition is a disastrous situation, especially for a country like India. We can say whatever we want about one more example of complete and total failure of Congress leadership [ whoever that is this days] . We can try and say Sachin Pilot has not achieved much but this only demonstrate the Congress is behaving like Camel in the desert storm. This is not the first time a prominent leader has left congress and I am not talking about MP example. Dont forget Sharad Pawar and Bengal CM. Congress is living in complete denial about its grass root problem and ignoring next gen leaders. The cost will only be paid by Congress but by country as this gives free hand to the BJP and RSS

  30. 2+2= 4.
    Hi Holiness Sir Shivam Vij : Why is it unfair to say that 2+2 =4 , Then intellectual hammering and day dreaming follows 🤣

  31. Dynasty is King.Nobody is allowed to dissent and if people like Powar did they were thrown out of the party.Young men are not allowed the rise in the Congress party. Only a Gandhi can rule and thus Congress is doomed.Long live BJP.
    The writer is a Paid by Congress to preach its agenda. Pappu decides.

  32. Sachin Pilot proved himself that he is No.1 idiot in the world who has neither respect for the elders nor for the party.

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