It was initially thought that the Madhya Pradesh model would get repeated in the neighbouring Rajasthan as well.
The then Congress general secretary Jyitiraditya Scindia quit the party and joined the BJP. With him came 22 MLAs, who owed allegiance to him, to the BJP. This caused the downfall of the 15-month-old Congress government led by Kamal Nath this March.
However, the same script was not to be repeated in Rajasthan.
Just as Scindia, Sachin Pilot was also a Young Turk of the Congress and who was considered close to former party president Rahul Gandhi.
Both of them faced isolation and alienation from their respective CMs – Scindia from Nath while Pilot from Ashok Gehlot.
Both Scindia and Pilot sought to get their issue resolved by the High Command. However, both of them were disappointed by the treatment meted out to them by Rahul Gandhi and Congress president Sonia Gandhi. They did not even get time to air their grievances.
Pushed to the wall and left with no choice, the two rebelled against the Congress leadership.
So far so good.
Scindia was fortunate enough to be welcomed by the BJP with open arms. He did not face any resistance from Madhya Pradesh BJP’s tallest leader Shivraj Singh Chouhan.
As a result, the entry of Scindia and his supporters into the BJP fold was smooth and swift. This led to the downfall of the Nath government and coming to power of the BJP government led by Chouhan.
However, the fate of Pilot, who was sacked by the Congress both as deputy CM as well as state party president last week, and his supporters is still hanging in the balance.
The reason being the alleged opposition by former Rajasthan CM Vasundhara Raje of the BJP to Pilot’s entry into the party and her tacit support to Gehlot.
Vasundhara is thought to be enjoying the support of about 45 of the 72 BJP MLAs in the state. As a result, the BJP leadership cannot give a concrete shape to any plan of inducting Pilot and 18 MLAs owing allegiance to him without getting a nod from Raje.
Raje’s apprehensions are not without a basis, perhaps.
Pilot rebelled against the Congress leadership demanding replacement of Gehlot by him as the CM. If the Gehlot government falls and he and his supporters join the BJP, he is unlikely to pipe down his demand of donning the CM’s hat.
He is unlikely to accept the same deputy CM’s post. He was a deputy CM and in most likelihood he may not settle down for anything less than the CM’s chair.
If this happens, Raje will naturally feel threatened.
This is the reason why Raje is maintaining a studied silence over Pilot’s rebellion and is seen to be conveying a message of indispensability to the BJP leadership.
As a result, Pilot’s plan of joining the BJP has been shelved.
This has also led to a war of words between Raje, Pilot, BJP’s alliance partner Rashtriya Loktantrik Party (RLP) and Raje’s supporters.
Hanuman Beniwal, an RLP Lok Sabha MP from Nagaur, has bluntly alleged connivance between Raje and Gehlot.
In a series of tweets, he has levelled serious allegations against both Raje and Gehlot.
He said, “That CM Ashok Gehlot and former CM Vasundhara Raje have an understanding has come out in the open. Together, both of them hid the scams that took place in their regimes.”
राजस्थान में सीएम @ashokgehlot51 व पूर्व सीएम वसुंधरा राजे का गठजोड़ जनता के सामने खुलकर आ गया है,दोनों ने मिलकर एक… https://t.co/cXsDA85mQG
— HANUMAN BENIWAL (@hanumanbeniwal) 1594897197000
He said Gehlot had brought bribery allegations against Raje, linked to the mining sector. He accused Gehlot of not signing a single paper to initiate inquiry even in 14 months of his rule. No agency has yet taken cognisance of his allegations so far, he said.
In another tweet, Beniwal said, “Vasundhara has talked to the MLAs close to her and asked them to support Ashok Gehlot. Raje talked to MLAs of Sikar and Nagaur districts and asked them to maintain a distance with Sachin Pilot. I have solid proofs regarding this.”
पूर्व सीएम वसुंधरा राजे ने @INCRajasthan में उनके करीबी विधायको से दूरभाष पर बात करके उन्हें @ashokgehlot51 का साथ… https://t.co/6JjYzkYlL2
— HANUMAN BENIWAL (@hanumanbeniwal) 1594901598000
Pledging his support to Sachin Pilot, Beniwal alleged that Raje has been trying her level best to save the “minority government” of Gehlot. “Raje has called up several Congress MLAs in this regard,” he said.
पूर्व सीएम वसुन्धरा राजे @ashokgehlot51 की अल्पमत वाली सरकार को बचाने का पुरजोर प्रयास कर रही है,राजे द्वारा कों… https://t.co/uwRiqEIByw
— HANUMAN BENIWAL (@hanumanbeniwal) 1594901740000
Pilot himself has hit a salvo at Raje. He charged her of being favoured by Gehlot in a quid pro quo manner.
He said, “Raje had allotted herself a government bungalow in Jaipur for life in 2017. The high court (HC) had cancelled this order by her government but instead of getting the bungalow vacated, the state government challenged the HC order in the Supreme Court.”
Pilot also said, “We campaigned against the mining scam of her government and forced her to cancel all mining leases. But after coming to power, instead of taking action, Gehlot too has been treading the same path.”
Despite a volley of personal tirades against her, the former CM maintained a studied silence for a long time.
On July 18, she posted two tweets. However, she did not name anyone, as usual. She is known for not launching personal attacks against anyone.
In the first tweet she said, “It is unfortunate that the people of Rajasthan are paying for the discord within the Congress. At a time when Covid-19 has claimed more than 50 lives and positive cases are close to 28,000, at a time when locusts are attacking the farmers’ fields, at a time when crime against women is at an all-time high, at a time when there is a problem of electricity across the state, and I am only naming a few of the problems being faced by the people. There is no point in trying to drag the BJP leaders’ names through the mud. It is the interest of our people that must remain paramount.”
— Vasundhara Raje (@VasundharaBJP) 1595065445000
In the second tweet, she said, “Some people are continuously trying to spread confusion without any facts on the political developments of Rajasthan. I have been serving the people as a committed worker of the party for the past three decades and am standing with its ideology.”
#Rajasthan के राजनीतिक घटनाक्रम पर कुछ लोग बिना किसी तथ्यों के भ्रम फैलाने की लगातार कोशिश कर रहे हैं। मैं पिछले ती… https://t.co/f1u1ZPNMFm
— Vasundhara Raje (@VasundharaBJP) 1595076814000
However, Raje did not receive an overwhelming response from her supporters either. Just two of her supporters spoke up to defend her.
In a joint statement, former speaker Kailash Meghwal and Pratap Singh Singhvi hit out at Pilot saying his comments betrayed his frustration.
They said, “Pilot has still not been able to forget the pain of his mother’s defeat against Raje in the assembly election of 2003,” they said.
They accused Pilot of creating a conflict like situation in the Congress. Now, he is trying to find a way out of the deadlock which he finds himself in, they said.
Meanwhile, the central leadership of the BJP has not tried to overrule Raje. They are waiting and watching the developments before making a final decision. However, amidst all this, the chinks in the BJP have been exposed.