Raj bypolls: Cong attempts to placate Pilot

Ahead of bypolls in four Assembly segments, the Congress in Rajasthan is trying to work out a truce between Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and former Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot.

Pilot has been organising farmers’ conventions in the state and the party is trying to put up a united face as winning the bypolls is crucial for the survival of the government and would be a morale booster for the Congress.

Sources say the withdrawal of cases in the Supreme Court is one of the steps as party chief whip in the Assembly Mahesh Joshi had met Ajay Maken, General Secretary in-charge in New Delhi.

The Special Leave Petition was filed last year after Pilot had rebelled against Gehlot, along with 19 MLAs, but later returned after a shaky truce.

In Rajasthan four seats will see for bypolls – Sujangarh, Vallabhnagar, Sahada and Rajsamand. The Congress won three of these in 2018 elections and BJP won Rajsamand. The Congress direly needs support of the Gurjar community to retain the seats.

Pilot also wants rehabilitation of his supporters in the government which has been delayed due to lack of a consensus.

The fissures in the party are evident since Pilot has been organising farmers’ conventions separately and during Rahul Gandhi’s rally in the state, Pilot was not given a place on the dias as only the Chief Minister and state party chief were seated which has upset Pilot’s supporters.

Congress leader Acharya Pramod Krishnam had criticised such a move and said “How can the farmers benefit when the farmer leader is brought down from the dais during the farmers’ convention? This is not the question of Sachin Pilot’s insult and neglect, but this is the question of Congress’ future.”

Sources close to him say that crowds in the Kisan Panchayat are a show of strength by the former Deputy Chief Minister. However, Pilot has denied any such rift and had said, “I am strongly attached to the farmer community. In fact, my father and I have received full blessings from the farmer community across castes. Farmers are the backbone of our country’s economy.”

“This agrarian community plays a strong role in our country’s development and hence the Congress is fully committed to their cause. As a Congress worker, I feel that it is my duty to remain committed to the farmers’ issue and hence I am here addressing this rally,” he had said.