Yesterday, when Randeep Surjewala spoke to the media on the Rajasthan crisis, he struck a predictable tone. He breathed fire at the BJP for trying to topple the Gehlot government. On Sachin Pilot, he was soft, saying that all sorts of doors are open for him.
This is funny, but expected. The BJP has so far said nothing officially, while Pilot is in open revolt. Why angry with BJP but not with the rebel himself. Political compulsions, of course. Surjewala had to leave the door open for Sachin Pilot to return.
All through the rest of the day, the rumors were of the same kind from Delhi. This or that “formula” for reconciliation being floated. It was said that the Cong royal family was communicating directly with Sachin Pilot, eager for a solution.
But it seemed something else was happening in Jaipur, where Gehlot clearly had the magic number of MLAs. The tone taken in Jaipur was more uncompromising, where his posters were torn down from the Congress office.
And now, this:
Of course, it is unthinkable that a decision so important would not have sanction from the Gandhis. But if you ask me, it looked slightly as if Jaipur has prevailed over Delhi.
The thing is that Gehlot is a skilled player, with a much higher IQ than Rahul Gandhi. It was actually a little surprising that the old warhorse prevailed upon the high command to make him CM after 2018. Now he has pulled off a big win, sending his main opponent out of the party. The path is clear for Gehlot to rule Rajasthan Congress. And for his son to inherit it.
In some ways, this is the bane of the Congress. Too many politicians who know more about shunting out rivals than winning elections.
Yes, Gehlot has won elections. But I would say that is almost incidental. A mere consequence of the fact that Rajasthan has a revolving door policy on incumbents. When Gehlot first became CM, Cong had 153 seats. When he became CM again, it had 95 and now 99. Meanwhile, he has led the party to shattering defeats in 2003 (56 seats) and 2013 (21 seats)! In 2018, people thought the Congress was going to sweep Rajasthan. He barely squeaked out a win. He didn’t get a majority, but quickly managed independents. That’s his skill: managing stuff, not winning elections. Like Ahmed Patel.
Compare to BJP, which has real election winners in charge, like Amit Shah or Himanta Biswa Sharma.
The BJP is even better placed in Rajasthan than it was yesterday. Sachin Pilot is now left absolutely nowhere. He cannot bargain with BJP, because he has nothing to offer them.
This is something of a pity, because Pilot did work hard for the 2018 win and probably deserved the CM chair more than Gehlot did.
The time is ripe for Sachin Pilot to do what so many talented Congressis have done before. Walk out and form his own regional outfit that will finish the Congress in Rajasthan. Then one day Congress will become a junior partner in a government led by Sachin Pilot. One more future UPA constituent. One more state becoming Congress mukt.