Speculations rife over Sachin Pilot’s next move

New Delhi:¬†Amid speculation over Congress leader Sachin Pilot’s next move, sources close to him on Tuesday said he was firm on his demands, including action against alleged corruption during the previous Vasundhara Raje government, and was waiting for a definitive response from the party high command.

While some reports have claimed that Pilot may announce floating a new party, sources close to him maintained that he is focussed only on the fulfilment of his demands that the Ashok Gehlot government takes action against alleged corruption during the previous BJP regime and acts on issues of the youth such as those related to government recruitment examination paper leaks.

The sources said that the meeting Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and Pilot had with party chief Mallikarjun Kharge and Rahul Gandhi last week did not result in any resolution of “core issues” between the two Rajasthan bigwigs.

Gehlot and his former deputy have been engaged in a power tussle since the Congress formed government in the state in 2018 and the party is seeking to broker peace between the two ahead of the assembly elections in the state, slated for later this year.

There is intense speculation that Pilot may give a clear indication on his way forward on June 11 when he marks his father’s death anniversary in Dausa.

“He (Pilot) is waiting for a response from the party leadership, the ball is in their court,” a source close to him said.

Leaders close to Pilot said he has taken a “principled position” and it is not about posts. The issues of corruption and paper leaks are his top priority, they added.

Besides graft, 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.

The preparations for the programme marking Rajesh Pilot’s death anniversary, which is held annually, are going on in full swing in Dausa and are being supervised by Minister of State for Agriculture Marketing Murari Lal Meena, who is known to be close to Pilot.

With all eyes on that programme, Meena told reporters, “I have no idea from where the speculation of the new party started. I do not see any substance in such speculations. I work following the ideology of the party.” The Congress last Thursday had said the party is supreme and will fight the Rajasthan Assembly polls unitedly to emerge victorious, an assertion that came after Pilot refused to budge from his demands.

In a bid to defuse the tensions, Kharge and Gandhi had held marathon discussions with Gehlot and Pilot separately last week, sources had said. 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.

Addressing reporters after the meeting earlier this week, Congress general secretary (organisation) K C 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.