The unforeseen event led by the ultimate party loyalist stunned all, with people in Congress circles discussing two possibilities – that it was a revolt of a man humiliated by the leadership which decided to pick his successor while he was in the CM’s post; or that it was all a “fixed match” designed to put an aggressive aspirant Sachin Pilot in his place by underlining his limited acceptability in the organisation.
Whatever the truth, the development has cast a long shadow on the Congress presidential polls.
As the AICC brass sometime back embarked on a novel project of a non-Gandhi party chief, the leadership zeroed in on its state satrap who ticked many columns – loyalty, stature, identity, and organisational and political aptitude. Gehlot could not be doubted on any of these, till the party erupted in Jaipur on Sunday.
The revolt by the almost entire party against the leadership amid its concerns that the high command may pick Pilot as the next CM, implies that Gehlot has struck an independent course. This creates a piquant situation whereby his willingness to move to Delhi, as well as his acceptability among the Gandhis, is thrown into question.
Gehlot was likely to file his nomination for the party president’s election on September 28 or 29. It is to be seen if that happens now.
If Gehlot does contest the internal polls to replace Sonia Gandhi as the party chief, then many believe the message would be that the so-called revolt was actually a “fixed match” between the Central and state brass to demonstrate who among the aspirants had the acceptability to lead the party in Rajasthan, and to end the open lobbying that had gone out of hand.
But if Gehlot backs out, then it would be seen as a genuine revolt whereby the state leadership virtually seceded from the already weakened high command, and refused to accept its writ. That an overwhelming number of MLAs showed loyalty to Gehlot and castigated Pilot as the person who rebelled against the party in mid-2020, exposes a serious dissonance in the thinking of the state unit and the central leadership.