While the Congress party is on one hand relishing the new boosting for its political course from the thumping victory in the Karnataka assembly polls, it is on the other hand exhibits that it is not strongly realising that it is losing popular faces, who once were a vital force in the party's campaign against the Modi regime. The exit of such faces has shaken the party's high command, but it appears that the party isn't concerned with such dissents and it also empowers the trend of dominance from the veterans.
Amid reviving the lost grounds in the south through Karnataka, Congress is also witnessing the downfall of its stronghold in the north - Rajasthan. The tussle between Rajasthan's Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and Congress leader Sachin Pilot is popular across the nation and now, it has gone to the level that Pilot, one of the young faces in the party, is planning to float a new political party by leaving the Congress.
On why Pilot's revolt is gaining significance now, Rajasthan is heading to the assembly polls later this year and such a high-level divide within the Congress puts the BJP on cloud nine. Sachin Pilot is expected to make a big announcement on June 11 and sources close to the developments say that the announcement would be a launch of a new political party - 'Pragatisheel Congress' and June 11 marks the death anniversary of his father Rajesh Pilot.
The road of Sachin Pilot's new political drive is in the making - it is expected that his new party will align with Rashtriya Loktantrik Party led by Hanuman Beniwal and Arvind Kejriwal's Aam Aadmi Party as a third front in the Rajasthan assembly polls. Pilot would be the Chief Ministerial candidate of this alliance and as the Congress party braces up for his exit, a handful of sitting Congress MLAs will also join Pilot and quit the party.
Though the exact number of dissenting MLAs is unknown, it appears that the crack would spark an adverse impact for the Congress during the assembly polls. Significantly, political strategist Prashant Kishor's IPAC is helping Sachin Pilot in building his new political road. According to the political observers, Pilot's exit from the party would mark a huge failure for the Congress leadership, that has majorly sided with veteran Ashok Gehlot when it comes to the tussle.
The next level of Sachin Pilot's dissent has triggered a new start for the already existing political crisis for Congress in Rajasthan. Ashok Gehlot and Sachin Pilot have been locking horns for many years now and there were events of political revolts some years back when there was an apparent war of words between the duo, that gave speculations that Pilot would leave the party.
In their tussle, it was reported that the BJP cajoled the Congress MLAs to topple Gehlot's government. However, the consensus between Gehlot and Pilot marred BJP's plans as Gehlot continued to serve as the Chief Minister. The political infight between Gehlot and Pilot began over supremacy as Pilot (45) moved to replace Gehlot (72) as the Chief Minister. So far, the Congress leadership hasn't accepted to unseat Gehlot and to replace Pilot to the top post.
Gehlot was the Rajasthan state Congress chief when the party won the assembly polls in 2018 and as he became the Chief Minister, Sachin Pilot was appointed the Deputy Chief Minister. As months into power gone, the conflict between them came to public domain and it went robust after the Congress government in neighboring Madhya Pradesh was toppled by the BJP with the exit of Jyotiraditya Scindia, who was then one of the youngest leaders in Congress.
As Rajasthan is just a few months away from the assembly polls, the political tussle between Gehlot and Pilot has got a new opening with Pilot deciding to defeat Gehlot through his new political innings. Speculations about Pilot's new political plans have gone viral after he conducted a one-day fast on April 11 and a five-day padayatra starting May 11. As his new intentions have gone against the Gehlot government, it is highly likely that an announcement about the new political party would come from Pilot on June 11.
As Pilot is all set to cut his ties with the Congress, it has been reported that the volunteers of Prashant Kishor's IPAC are believed to have helped Pilot when he organized his one-day hunger strike on April 11, during which he demanded the Gehlot government to take action against a corruption that alleged to have happened during the BJP rule in the state, led by Vasundhara Raje. IPAC was also instrumental in executing Pilot's five-day padayatra to demand the Gehlot government to take action on the issue of question paper leak in recruitment examinations.
During the last day of the yatra, Pilot on May 15 addressed a rally in Jaipur during which he had made three demands to the Gehlot government - action against the alleged corruption during the Raje rule, reconstitution of the Rajasthan Public Service Commission and compensation for the youth affected by the exam paper leak. Moreover, Pilot went on to vow that he will launch a state-wide protest against the ruling Gehlot government if his demands weren't met within May 31.
These events of Pilot's intense campaign against Gehlot were speculated to culminate to a new political party. On June 11, Pilot would make a big announcement and he will also hold a rally to the mark the occasion of his father's death anniversary. Congress party, after its hardcore efforts to mitigate both the leaders, would be watching the exit of a popular face from the party ahead of the crucial polls.
The efforts of Congress party's leadership in uniting them were visible in recent times and what is also visible is that nothing had worked out as expected. On May 29, Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge and Congress leader Rahul Gandhi had held four-hour-long discussions with both the rivaling leaders in Rajasthan and after the rendezvous, the leadership announced that Gehlot and Pilot have agreed to work unitedly to defeat the BJP. There was a joint picture of the leaders, however, the story changed shortly.
Two days later, on May 31, Sachin Pilot to reporters that he will not make any compromises with the three demands that he put forward for the Gehlot government. His announcement had fueled the crisis in Rajasthan and it has now to the stage where Pilot would float a new political party. On the other hand, Gehlot, who is strongly supported by the Congress leadership, has insisted that he wants Pilot to leave the party.
Gehlot has the backing from the party and aims to win the second consecutive term as the Chief Minister if the Congress party triumphs the upcoming assembly polls. It is pertinent to note that when the Congress party witnessed the race for the post of national president last year, Gehlot was said to be a frontrunner as the leadership had planned to elevate Pilot as the Chief Minister by appointing Gehlot as the party's national president. However, Gehlot gave no room for such elevation neither for him nor for Pilot and remained as the Chief Minister. In line with Jyotiraditya Scindia, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Kapil Sibal, Jitendra Prasada, Ashwani Kumar, and Hardik Patel, Pilot will become another popular face that the party will lose.