Loyalists gain but Sachin Pilot’s role in Rajasthan still unclear

By Express News Service

JAIPUR/NEW DELHI: With the cabinet reshuffle in Rajasthan, the prolonged tussle between Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and Sachin Pilot looks settled for the time being. However, there is still no clarity on Pilot’s role in future and the Congress leadership will need to address this on priority to ensure long-term peace in the state unit.

In terms of the immediate future, the Congress is likely to be a united force now as the party moves towards the next election in 2023. The reshuffle was designed to promote a collective leadership that may help to make the Congress dream of returning to power into a reality in 2023. The party high command wishes to utilise Pilot’s appeal among young voters to gain power in Rajasthan in 2023.

In terms of Pilot’s future, there is considerable uncertainty and lack of clarity. For the moment Pilot is not holding any position either in Rajasthan or at the AICC level, but all indications are that he will soon be rehabilitated with some important AICC post.

Rajasthan Governor Kalraj Mishra and CM Ashok Ghelot pose with new cabinet ministers after the swearing-in ceremony at Raj Bhawan in Jaipur on Sunday | PTI

“He could be given a prominent role in election-bound states next year and will continue working in Rajasthan as he has made it clear to the party high command that his prime focus is home state and 2023 elections,” said a source in Delhi. Party insiders in the state, however, believe that Pilot’s prospects to become the party’s chief ministerial face in 2023 seem unlikely. 

The big challenge for Pilot will be to take up an assignment in some other state and yet be active in Rajasthan. While he has been successful in staying within the mainstream of the party despite his rebellion last year, it remains to be seen how he will handle his relationship with Gehlot henceforth. Another tough challenge for him will be to neutralise the new faces that are being propped up by Gehlot such as state Congress chief Govind Singh Dotasra, Raghu Sharma, Harish Chaudhari and a few other who have been given important positions in the party and now are in direct touch with the Congress high command.