Cong top brass holds poll preparedness meet with Rajasthan leaders

New Delhi: Top leaders of the Congress on Thursday held crucial deliberations with the party’s leaders in Rajasthan on the poll strategy and preparedness, while also seeking to resolve the tussle between Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and his bete noire Sachin Pilot.

Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge, former party chief Rahul Gandhi, AICC general secretary organisation K C Venugopal, AICC in-charge of state Sukhjinder Randhawa, state unit chief Govind Singh Dotasra, Pilot and other senior leaders from Rajasthan met at the party headquarters here at 11 am.

Chief Minister Gehlot, who is recovering from fractures in both his toes, is attending the meeting via video conferencing, sources said.

Posting a video from the meeting, Congress chief Kharge said on Twitter that with public service, relief and upliftment of all, Rajasthan was on the path of progress.

The Congress party has taken the schemes of inclusive development and public welfare to every household in Rajasthan, he said in a tweet in Hindi.

The party will unitedly go amongst the people in the upcoming elections.

“Every section of Rajasthan – farmers, farm-labourers, youth, women — is expressing faith in the Congress party,” Kharge said.

“We will take care of everyone’s aspirations. Both present and future of Rajasthan are safe in the hands of Congress. History will change this time,” he said referring to the revolving door trend of the incumbent party being voted out of power in the state.

In a Facebook post in Hindi, Gandhi said a meeting with Rajasthan Congress leaders was held under the leadership of the Congress president.

The Congress will once again form the government in Rajasthan and will continue to work for a better future of the people, the former Congress chief said.

Kharge has been chairing key strategy meetings with leaders of poll-bound states. He has already held separate meetings with leaders of Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Mizoram.

All eyes are on Rajasthan as the Congress is looking to buck the revolving door trend of the incumbent party being voted out of power and the Gehlot-Pilot tussle making matters more complicated for the party for the upcoming assembly polls.

At an event marking the death anniversary of his father Rajesh Pilot last month, Sachin Pilot had said people’s trust is the “biggest asset” for him and asserted that he will keep fighting to get them justice and not back down on his demands.

Pilot had been attacking the Ashok Gehlot-led Congress government in Rajasthan over alleged inaction on charges of corruption levelled by him against the previous Vasundhara Raje-led BJP dispensation.

The state’s former deputy chief minister has also demanded disbanding of the Rajasthan Public Service Commission and its reconstitution, as well as definitive action by the government as well as compensation for the victims of job exam paper leaks.

Interestingly, two days before the strategy meeting, Gehlot on Tuesday said that the Rajasthan government will bring a bill in the next assembly session to increase the quantum of punishment for those involved in recruitment exam paper leaks from 10 years to life imprisonment.

In a bid to defuse the tensions, Congress chief Kharge and Gandhi had held marathon discussions with Gehlot and Pilot separately in May. They had later posed for photographs at Kharge’s 10 Rajaji Marg residence here.

After the meetings, the party had said Gehlot and Pilot have agreed to fight the upcoming assembly elections unitedly and have left all issues to be resolved by 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.