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Is a breakthrough possible in the Rajasthan impasse, considering Kharge's two-pronged approach and the belligerent Pilot?

Despite the hardening of positions by a bellicose Sachin Pilot and the AICC general secretary in charge of Rajasthan, Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, the odds of a truce in the Congress-controlled, election-bound state of Rajasthan are quite high.

Pilot is in Delhi in conjunction with his son's school graduation ceremony. All eyes are on Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge to determine whether or not Pilot will be granted an audience at 10, Rajaji Marg in New Delhi.

According to theory, Kharge has a two-pronged strategy for Rajasthan. Part one includes an offer to Pilot to relocate to Delhi as an AICC functionary and a member of the Congress Working Committee (CWC) and to assume a prominent position in national politics. It is unclear whether Pilot, who has previously resisted efforts to transfer the focus outside of Rajasthan, would contemplate this option. If the broader contours of Kharge's plan are made public or if it is implemented transparently, his proposal will appear more credible.

The 'draught Pilot' proposal to the AICC is connected to the crucial issue of ticket distribution in Rajasthan, where assembly elections are scheduled for this November. The pilot faction would desire protection and assistance for its MLAs and ticket candidates. Congress insiders ponder whether Kharge will use his position as Congress president to convene the chief minister of Rajasthan and obtain his assurance that the ticket distribution procedure will be equitable.

After the Karnataka assembly elections, Kharge plans to revamp the AICC secretariat and reconstitute the CWC with 35 members. According to sources close to him, he desires to end the Rajasthan situation as quickly as feasible. Kharge has extensive experience interacting with Rajasthan. He was one of the two AICC observers in Jaipur on September 25, 2022, when a meeting of the Congress Legislature Party (CLP) could not be held due to late-night intrigue, drama, and manoeuvring.

On Tuesday, April 12, 2023, there was a great deal of suspense and activity behind the scenes in Jaipur and Delhi as Pilot sat on a day-long fast to demand that the Ashok Gehlot government take action against those involved in corrupt practises under the previous BJP government led by Vasundhra Raje Scindia. Contrary to some speculative media reports, Priyanka Gandhi did not contact Pilot while accompanying her brother Rahul Gandhi in Wayanad, Kerala.

However, Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, who had issued a warning of sorts on the eve of Pilot's fast, reportedly spoke to Pilot twice. Party sources said it had something to do with the toning down of his written statement that had read: “Sachin Pilot’s day-long fast on Tuesday is against the party interests and is anti-party activity. If there is any issue with his own government, it can be discussed in the party forums instead of in the media and public.”

Randhawa's statements indicating that his diatribe against the Vasundhara regime was not an indictment of the Ashok Gehlot government reportedly enraged the Pilot camp. In addition, Pilot's periodic letters to Gehlot, emphasising the need to act against the Vasundhara government, were meticulously documented and transmitted to Ajay Makan, the former AICC general secretary for Rajasthan.


If Pilot rejects Kharge's offer to become an AICC functionary and insists on remaining in Rajasthan, plan B would involve appointing Pilot as Rajasthan unit chief, which would require more delicate management and have a lower likelihood of success. Kharge was an AICC observer in Punjab during the Navjot Singh Sidhu experiment, according to many Rajasthan observers. Sidhu's limited tenure was consumed by infighting as the Congress performed poorly in the February 2021 Punjab assembly elections. The only positive aspect of Pilot's return to the position he held from 2014 to 2020 would be the ability to have the final say over ticket distribution.

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Tags: Indian National Congress Mallikarjun Kharge Sachin Pilot Ashok Gehlot Rajasthan Congress


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