Cong projected unity but ‘core issues’ between Ashok Gehlot, Sachin Pilot stay unresolved: Sources

New Delhi: The Congress has projected unity to take on the BJP in the assembly polls in Rajasthan but “core issues” between Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and his bete noire Sachin Pilot remain unresolved, according to sources close to Pilot.

The Congress on Monday said the two leaders have agreed to the party’s “proposal” and will fight the upcoming assembly elections unitedly, having left all issues to be resolved by the high command.

However, the sources said Monday’s meeting of Gehlot and Pilot with party chief Mallikarjun Kharge and Rahul Gandhi did not result in any resolution of the “core issues” between the two Rajasthan bigwigs.

They also said Kharge and Rahul Gandhi first met Gehlot for two hours and then met Pilot separately after which all the leaders posed together for photographs at Kharge’s residence. Interestingly, despite the meeting being held in the same house, the leadership held discussions with Gehlot and Pilot separately.

Also, for the media bite outside Kharge’s 10 Rajaji Marg residence last night, while both Gehlot and Pilot walked out with general secretary organization K C Venugopal, they remained silent and did not speak to the media.

Their body language also did not exude any bonhomie.

The meeting came close on the heels of Pilot’s “ultimatum” that he would launch a state-wide agitation if his three demands of the state government were not met by the end of this month.

The sources close to Pilot said the demands that he has raised, especially with respect to the action against alleged corruption during the previous Vasundhara Raje government, remain unresolved.

They said Pilot was firm on his demands, and post-meeting if the Gehlot government does not act on them, he would continue to press for the causes he has taken up.

Pilot’s two other demands were reconstituting the Rajasthan Public Service Commission (RPSC) and making fresh appointments in it, and compensation for those affected by the cancellation of government recruitment exams following paper leaks.

Gehlot’s remarks that the party high command is strong and it will never offer any position to any leader or worker to pacify him, also created problems ahead of the meeting.

On Gehlot’s swipe, leaders close to Pilot said it is not about seeking personal positions but the issue of corruption and paper leaks is far more important which needs to be resolved on priority.

The party on Monday sought to project that all was fine in its Rajasthan unit.

Addressing reporters after the meeting at Kharge’s 10, Rajaji Marg, residence, Venugopal had said, “Both the leaders Ashok ji and Sachin ji agreed to the proposal on these things.” Asked what proposal he was talking out, Venugopal had said, “Both have left it to the (party) high command.” Gehlot and Pilot have been engaged in a power tussle since the Congress formed government in the state in 2018. In 2020, Pilot led a revolt against the Gehlot government after which he was removed from the posts of the party’s state unit president and deputy chief minister.

Last year, an attempt by the high command to effect a leadership change in Rajasthan had failed after Gehlot loyalists dug their heels in and did not allow a legislature party meeting to take place.

Pilot had last month defied a warning from the party and went ahead with a day-long fast targeting Gehlot over his “inaction” on alleged corruption during the previous Raje government.