By Sunil Garodia
First publised on 2020-07-12 22:06:41
For the last few days, Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot was crying hoarse that the BJP was offering money and other enticements to Congress MLAs to defect and cause his government to collapse. But it now transpires that the fissure was from within. It is being reported that deputy chief minister Sachin Pilot was talking to the BJP for the last 3 months. Jyotiraditya Scindiaâs defection must have given him the courage to go against the party.
That Gehlot was not on the same page with Pilot was common knowledge since the day the government was formed. While Gehlot was miffed that Pilot was being given undue importance for a team victory and for causing the defeat of his son, Pilot was angry that despite putting his all, he was not made the chief minister.
The Congress high command, as is its habit, wanted the two local satraps to fight so neither gained prominence. No one tried to settle their dispute and let the acrimony between them fester. The trigger for the revolt now is said to be a letter that Pilot received from the Special Operations Group of Rajasthan Police asking him to appear before it to record his statement in the case of tapping o phones of BJP leaders in the state. Since the home portfolio is with Gehlot, Pilot sees this as an attempt by him to tarnish his image and sideline him.
As of now, Sachin Pilot is claiming the support of 30 Congress MLAs in Rajasthan. The Congress general secretary in charge of the state, Avinash Pande, on the other hand has said that all MLAs are in touch with him and have pledged full support to the party. Pilot has decided not to attend the legislature party meeting called by the chief minister at his residence tomorrow morning.
Although the Congress is firm that it will not allow a Madhya Pradesh like situation in Rajasthan, there are firm pointers that Gehlot will not survive this revolt. If Pilot has the support of 30 MLAs, then no one can save Gehlot. But if Pilot has only 16 MLAs, as was initially reported, then the wily Gehlot can still crush the rebellion. For, the Congress has 107 MLAs and the BJP 72. Losing 16 will take Congress to 91. There are 12 independents. Even if the BJP manages to snare all of them, it will still have just 84 MLAs. Gehlot can still manage to run the government in a house whose strength will be reduced to 184 (assuming that the defectors lose their voting rights) as it has the support of the CPM, the RLD and the BTP. Hence, it all depends on how the dice rolls in the legislature party meeting tomorrow.