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Is Avinash Pandey’s replacement with Ajay Maken first political victory of Sachin Pilot?

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In what is being hailed as the first political victory of Sachin Pilot, the Congress high command has replaced Avinash Pandey with Ajay Maken as AICC general secretary in-charge of Rajasthan. Sachin Pilot is being seen as the reason behind the swift ouster of Avinash Pandey.

Notably, Ajay Maken is a Rahul Gandhi loyalist who was sent to douse the flames in Rajasthan along with Randeep Surjewala.

Pandey sided with Ashok Gehlot

Sachin Pilot picked up cudgels against Pandey after he found that while he was the PCC chief,
Pandey hobnobbed with Ashok Gehlot. Pandey was trying to put his weight both in the government as well as in the organisation matters.

Sachin, who doubled as the deputy chief minister and as the PCC chief, was never comfortable with Pandey ever since the 2018 Vidhan Sabha election. Pandey, who also enjoys the patronage of the Gandhis sided with Gehlot when the tickets were disbursed for the Vidhan Sabha election in 2018.

Pandey knew the strength of Gehlot. When the party won the people’s mandate and emerged as the single largest party, yet missing the majority by a paper-thin margin, Pandey’s role became crucial.  He overlooked the five-years of hard work of Pilot that rejuvenated a dead party that could get only 21 seats in the 2013 election.

Pandey pushed Ashok Gehlot as CM before high command

Pandey, it is believed apprised the high command that Gehlot enjoys the support of the majority of the MLAs. He said that Gehlot enjoyed the support of more than seventy per cent of the MLAs and he should be made the Chief Minister.

Later, KC Venugopal, the AICC organisational secretary also endorsed Pandey’s observation. This was enough to make Pandey an adversary of Pilot. This eventually ended in his departure from Rajasthan and Pilot was successful in sending him out.

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Pandey has been an MLC and also a Rajya Sabha member and like Gehlot has emerged as a leader after being in the NSUI. In fact, the AICC in the past has been sending Maharashtrians to the state as the AICC general secretary. First, it was Mukul Wasnik, then Prabha Rau followed by late Gurudutt Kamath and then Pandey.

Pilot greets Maken on Twitter

When Maken was made the AICC general secretary, Pilot greeted his appointment on Twitter, but there was no word of thank you for Pandey.

Maken has been a member of the Lok Sabha and also Delhi’s Vidhan Sabha. The nephew of the slain Delhi MP Lalit Maken, who was the son-in-law of late President Shankar Dayal Sharma, Ajay rose from the student union politics.

He took his uncle’s place after his assassination by Sikh extremists. But he had to live under the shadow of Sheila Dikshit. However, even after being marginalised in Delhi’s politics, he was rewarded for his closeness to the Gandhis.

Challenges ahead for Maken

Maken’s task would be to rejuvenate the party which is partly divided after the Pilot-led rebellion.

Pilot was removed as the PCC chief and was replaced by Govind Singh Dotasara,
a Jat and a minister in Gehlot’s Cabinet.

Pilot’s endeavour would be to nominate his own man as the PCC chief as Dotasara’s choice
as the PCC chief was not liked by even senior Jat leaders. Moreover, he is considered as a Gehlot nominee.

Maken will have to adjust both with Gehlot and Pilot.
When Dotasara was made the PCC chief,
the party’s executive was dissolved and the first test for Maken will be how he handles the formation of the
new executive and strikes a balance between the Gehlot and Pilot faction.

 

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