NEW DELHI: A month after he revolted against chief minister
and left Jaipur with 18 supporting MLAs,
met Congress leaders
and rolled back his rebellion on the assurance that his grievances would be “redressed” even though the terms of the peace deal remain to be worked out in detail.
TOI, in a front page report on August 5, had pointed to the possibility of a thaw between Congress and the rebels.
The development marks a win for Gehlot who has all along claimed that he has the numbers for a floor test and has been reluctant to accommodate Pilot. The rebel’s meeting with Rahul and Priyanka was followed by a Congress statement, which said Pilot had expressed his grievances in detail. “They have had a frank, open and conclusive discussion. Pilot has committed to working in the interest of Congress and the Congress government in Rajasthan,” the party said.
Pilot, too, struck a conciliatory tone. “The party gives us post and can also take it back. I’ve no desire for any post but I wanted our self-respect to remain intact. I’ve contributed to the party for 18-20 years now. We’ve always attempted to ensure the participation of people who worked,” he said.
“Several things were said, I heard a lot of things. I was surprised by a few things that were said. I think we should always maintain restraint and humility. There is no place for personal malice in politics,” he added.
The afternoon meeting was followed by a discussion between Priyanka,
and the rebel MLAs where details such as accommodation of the dissidents in a cabinet reshuffle and appointments to corporations were considered. A committee to go into the grievances of Pilot and the other dissidents will work in a time-bound manner. The day’s discussions, the Pilot camp said, did not rule out consideration of the leadership issue even though it is not on the table at present.
There was no discussion on the posts of deputy CM and PCC chief that Pilot had held and he did not bring it up either. The events seemed to highlight the role played by Priyanka in keeping in touch with Pilot and later being the political manager in interacting with dissident MLAs who were keen on hearing how their interests would be protected.
Pilot drove to Rahul’s residence in the capital in the afternoon where he met the leader and Priyanka and held discussions for over two hours. The meeting was seen as a culmination of two weeks of talks between Pilot and Priyanka. It is, however, clear that the demand for leadership change in Rajasthan was a non-starter.
The compromise between the warring factions ended the stalemate that triggered a prolonged crisis in the desert state amid the Covid-19 pandemic and resulted in resort politics and petitions in the high court and the Supreme Court, besides bringing Raj Bhavan into the political warfare over summoning of the state assembly. It would seem the impending floor test and uncertainty over unseating the government, as well as his reluctance to join BJP, left Pilot will limited options.
The truce ahead of the assembly session on August 14 will end the uncertainty hanging over the Gehlot government.
As part of the deal, Congress chief
will form a three-member committee and this may turn out to be an exercise in protecting the rebels’ political interests in the wake of bitterness with Gehlot and ensuring “fair” appointments to state boards and corporations. Pilot is said to have been assured about his future and political interests. He also wants the Congress team looking after Rajasthan — general secretary in-charge and secretaries — to be changed.
As it turned out, a worried Congress high command adopted a line that was distinct from Gehlot’s frontal aggression and courted Pilot who had kept a line open with Priyanka, though for long he insiste