New Delhi: After Punjab, the Congress leadership is set to resolve the long-standing Rajasthan stalemate between Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and former deputy CM Sachin Pilot.
Congress’ Rajasthan in-charge Ajay Maken and Congress general secretary (organisation) K.C. Venugopal visited Jaipur over the weekend and met party MLAs Sunday, following which Maken said he will return to the state on 28 July to hold another round of meetings with party leaders.
Maken had Sunday told the media that “there is no contradiction among the party leaders and they all have left the final decision about the cabinet expansion to the party high command”.
Sources, however, said a cabinet expansion is on the cards and expected to be announced after 1 August. At present, there are nine empty spots in the 30-member council of ministers.
“Four of these spots are likely to be filled by Pilot’s loyalists,” a top leader in the Rajasthan Congress said.
While Pilot’s loyalists are likely to be accommodated in the cabinet reshuffle, the leader himself is likely to be given a role in the central party leadership, away from the politics of Rajasthan.
“A role as the AICC general secretary or some other post as an office-bearer in the AICC is on the table,” the Rajasthan Congress leader added.
The leader said this is a “temporary solution” while a permanent role is devised for Pilot within the Rajasthan Congress. “This is a way to buy time while the central leadership decides what can be done in the long run to keep both leaders (Gehlot and Pilot) happy,” the leader said.
Pilot yet to take a call
It is not clear whether Pilot will agree to leave Rajasthan for a central role in the party. He has so far been “non-committal”, and yet to make up his mind on the matter, another top Congress leader in Rajasthan said.
Rajasthan has been the home turf of the leader since he was appointed as the president of the state Congress committee in 2014. It is the post he held during the party’s victory in the 2018 assembly elections. It was expected that Pilot would be made the CM after that victory, but he had to make peace with the post of the deputy CM.
In July last year, however, Gehlot had accused Pilot of hobnobbing with the BJP and it was widely speculated that he would quit the Congress along with 18 loyal MLAs.
But the public row between the two leaders ended with Pilot being sacked as the Deputy CM of Rajasthan as well as the Congress’ state unit chief on 14 July 2020.
Since then, Pilot has remained mostly low-key, staying away from any controversy and working to mobilise farmers.
If he does accept the central leadership’s proposal to be made an office-bearer with the AICC, he might have to shift base to Delhi.
It has been over a year since Pilot was assured of a solution. A three-member committee had been constituted in August last year, to look into his grievances but a year on, the committee, which includes Maken and Venugopal, is yet to file its report to the high command.
The third member of the committee, veteran Congress leader Ahmed Patel, passed away in November last year.
(Edited by Arun Prashanth)