If Sachin Pilot forms his own party, Rajasthan could become “Cong mukt”

I am just not a fan of the state government changing in the middle of the term. Once a party has won a mandate, it is best to wait until the next election.

Obviously, there are exceptions to this rule. Especially when the government that assumes power after the election is simply not the one people voted for. Like Karnataka, for instance, where JDS+Cong formed a govt against the people’s mandate. Or like Maharashtra, where I don’t think even one person in the whole of the state voted for a Sena government supported by Cong and NCP. So if you think about it, they are not even exceptions to my rule. These governments never had a mandate.

Rajasthan is different. The Congress won 99 seats and the BJP got 72. Yeah, the vote shares were incredibly close, but that’s the way our system works. The BJP clearly did not win the mandate. I’d like to see the BJP wait the full five years and then come back with a thumping majority.

For BJP, a thumping win in Rajasthan was a foregone conclusion anyway in 2023. Anybody who sees the numbers since 1993 will notice that BJP’s wins have been getting bigger and its losses narrower. With the Rajasthan government vertically split between Gehlot and Pilot, there is a chance the Congress may not win 20 seats out of 200 in 2023.

In 2013, the BJP set the bar high, beating Congress 163 – 21. But given how Rajasthan’s govt was struggling, the BJP could have bettered even that.

But the crisis is boiling over and Pilot is now in Delhi with some say 25 MLAs (impossible to know if this is correct). While a lot of BJP supporters want Pilot to do a Scindia and jump ship to BJP, I am totally cold to the idea.

Admittedly, Sachin Pilot is one of the better dynasts in Indian politics. You can’t say that he has never done ground level politics. But my big worry is that if sufficiently many people jump ship, the BJP will turn over, sink and become the next Congress.

Small leaders can come and go, they can easily be dyed in the colors of their new party. The BJP has taken numerous entrants from SP and BSP in Uttar Pradesh. But Pilot is no small leader. If he were to join BJP, it would alter the BJP itself.

For the moment, Pilot has repeated that he is not joining BJP. At least I would very much like to believe that. As well as the claim that at least 102 MLAs have turned up at Ashok Gehlot’s residence.

That’s short of the 109 claimed earlier, but it’s above the magic number.

At this point, Ashok Gehlot’s government is pretty much over, whether or not he can find 100 MLAs. The revolt by Sachin Pilot has made it a lame duck government. At best, Gehlot can serve out the remainder of his term and then walk into a shattering defeat at the hands of the BJP. It might be the most one-sided election in Rajasthan’s history.

It’s not just a problem of ideology if Pilot were to join BJP. It would actually unsettle the party itself. Anyone can see that his entry creates problems for Vasundhara Raje. The BJP already has solid, proven and extremely credible leadership in Rajasthan. It has a network of supporters and cadres in every block and every tehsil. It does not need to import any strength.

The best outcome for BJP here would be for Pilot to form his own party. From the BJP’s point of view, this is now a realistic chance to make Rajasthan into “Congress-mukt.”

They would have won the next Assembly election anyway. That’s not Cong mukt. I have discussed many times what that term means. Cong mukt does not mean Congress sitting in opposition. Congress mukt means that Congress is qualified neither to rule nor to be the principal opposition.

As of now, most states in the North, East and South have become Cong mukt. The Cong survives in the central and western region. This is where the BJP needs to deliver the final blow and wrap up the party of Nehru.

If Pilot forms his own party and becomes the main opposition in Rajasthan, the state could become Congress-mukt.

In fact, this course doesn’t just benefit BJP, it also benefits Sachin Pilot. His future in the Congress looks bleak, especially now. He has lost the favor of high command and Gehlot was closer to the Gandhis anyway. Ashok Gehlot is an old man, but he will want the crown to pass to his son.

For Sachin Pilot, this is the time to make a break for it. The BJP will win in 2023. Given the revolving door in Rajasthan mandates, this means he has an actual chance of becoming CM in 2028. He has eight full years to build his party.

But, is it possible? In the bipolar politics of Rajasthan? Surprisingly, yes. While Rajasthan may appear bipolar, it really isn’t. Rajasthan is not Gujarat. The BJP has 72 seats and Congress has 99. Total of 171. Where are the other 29? Independents and smaller parties.

Rajasthan has always been like this. Even when BJP swept in 2013, there were 21 seats for Cong and 16 seats for “others.” When Congress won in 2008 (BJP 78, Cong 95), there were 27 seats for “others.”

That’s a very solid “third party” space already. Add 20 or so supporters of Sachin Pilot and you already have 50 “third party seats” in a house of 200. In Rajasthan, where fortunes swing wildly, that’s a very credible starting number if you are looking for 100 seats in 2028.

4 thoughts on “If Sachin Pilot forms his own party, Rajasthan could become “Cong mukt”

  1. If Sachin Pilot was in the Congress party because he loved its ideology, that reason must be long gone now. If he decides to join BJP, I doubt BJP will have any problem convincing him to adopt BJP’s political philosophy. But I agree to admit a powerful politician in the party and try to please him by giving high ranking cabinet positions to his supporters as it was done with Scindia may create resentment in the long run.

    I had a friend who kept getting failed in SSC, but always got good marks in History. Somebody asked why he loves History so much? He replied that History is simple. Just remember that Babar and Akbar don’t fight, everybody else fights with each other. Along the same line, right now in the Congress party, Sonia and Rahul don’t fight everybody else fights with each other. But lately, I have even started to doubt that. After Rahul installed Hardik Patel as Congress president in Gujarat, completely sidelining Sonia’s soldier Ahmed Patel I doubt that Sonia and Rahul don’t fight with each other. Advantage BJP.

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  2. Here is a thought. Suppose Rahul Gandhi says he will be willing to join the BJP on the condition that BJP makes him PM. It will add 19% vote share to the BJP. Will the BJP central leadership accept that ? It they wont, then they should not do such things at the state level either.

    In the corporate world, companies that transplant CEO’s from elsewhere dont do well. It is not easy to imbibe a different culture.

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  3. At one level, there is the view about politics: it is the art of the possible. So, in that token, Pilot could be taken in by the BJP.

    But this view has to account for where such a view has been noticed or possible – in the case of individual politicians trying to get ahead. In the short run. With Pilot, it is not one individual politician but a whole party called the BJP. Doing what is right in the long run.

    In the long-term perspective, a party, especially such as the BJP that is based on a particular philosophy and a cadre sworn to that philosophy, cannot make decisions that would favor it in the short run. It has to take the long view and see if there is alignment. In this case, snagging Pilot and his 20-odd MLAs would do nothing for the long run, only serve to greatly damage its credibility and credentials of upholding a different philosophy.

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  4. Not related to this topic, but do note how our selective secularists are quiet on the reconversion of Hagia Sophia into a mosque from a museum that it was for over 8 decades. Please do write on this.

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