NEW DELHI: Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot’s ‘strike’ against Sachin Pilot has left the younger leader seething, who sees being asked to join a police investigation into an alleged BJP plot to topple the government as a provocative act intended to corner him by insinuating his role in the events.
The deputy CM, who set aside his claim for the top post reluctantly on the urging of the Congress leadership, is understood to be deeply unhappy with the special operations group, which is seen to have powers to tap phones and monitor movements, and the view in his camp is that the “targeting” cannot go on.
Pilot has responded to allegations of being a possible catalyst for defections that can facilitate in Rajasthan the BJP’s Madhya Pradesh-Karnataka model by saying that he has worked wholeheartedly to bring Congress to office in the desert state. His camp does, however, wonder if Gehlot is acting unilaterally, taking advantage of an organisational vacuum at the centre, or has some tacit support in Delhi.
At any rate, Pilot is likely to take a decision — which is not spelt out — soon even as his camp denies reports of him having spoken to BJP chief J P Nadda. He does seem let down, as he “stepped aside” on the urging of Rahul Gandhi, sources close to him said. If there was a suggestion that his time would come, events thereafter have seen Gehlot consolidate his control. Pilot too has taken several potshots at the CM and functioning of the state government.
As the drama kicked off by the police FIR over the alleged plot, the naming of Pilot a player in the report and Gehlot’s direct remarks about the deputy CM at a press conference in Jaipur on Saturday has brought in the open the ‘Gehlot vs Pilot’ tussle which has hobbled the Congress government since the start in December 2018. “That’s the straw that broke the camel’s back,” a source close to Pilot said.
As PCC chief, Pilot fancied himself for the CM’s post during the elections but old warhorse Gehlot was selected by the party leadership after the victory, resulting in heartburn that has been evident over the last one-and-a-half years. Pilot, who is still the Rajasthan Congress chief, was camping in the national capital during the weekend. He is learnt to have spoken to managers close to the party leadership while also pointing out that his supporters were asking him not to take the “humiliation” lying down. Pilot’s camp feels options in the party are being ruled out for him, pointing to similar allegations made during the Rajya Sabha elections last month. Then, Gehlot had voiced fears that BJP was trying to wean away MLAs though Congress later polled all the votes due to it. “They were earlier firing at Pilot by naming BJP. This time, Pilot himself has been named,” the source said, adding, “It is being done deliberately to humiliate him and brand him the villain.”


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