Prakash Bhandari, Jaipur: With saving the Rajasthan government being of utmost priority, the Congress high command, it seems, has been able to break the ice with dissidents led by Sachin Pilot.
The high-level meeting of Sachin Pilot with Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra ended with Pilot agreeing for a truce that will ensure the safety of the Congress government in Rajasthan led by Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot.
32-day drama comes to an end
The 32-day drama of uncertainty that shrouded the Gehlot government ended on Monday. There is a sigh of relief in the Gehlot camp which was claiming majority with 102 votes in hand. Now, the ruling party will comfortably face the Assembly session beginning from August 14 without being concerned about numbers.
Decision on future of dissidents after Assembly session
The various issues relating to leadership and the future of Sachin Pilot and his 18 loyalist MLAs will come up for review only after the Assembly session ends.
It is not known whether Pilot has agreed for the truce with his conditions, but the high command has worked out a formula for the honourable return of the dissidents.
While Pilot has always been stressing that he was not joining the BJP and he was opposing the authoritarian rule of Gehlot, Pilot’s long silence for 32 days in which he never came out with any strong statements against Gehlot also worked in his favour.
Congress’ soft stand on Pilot
AICC observers Randeep Surjewala and Ajay Makan always maintained that the doors of the party would always remain open for the dissidents served as a positive message.
The withdrawal of the sedition charges against Pilot and transferring of the case from SOG to the anti-corruption bureau also served well. Later Gehlot also joined the chorus by saying that he will have no objection if the rebels returned to the party tendering their apology.
Congress MLAs against return of dissidents
However, the Congress Legislative Party that met at the Jaisalmer hotel on Sunday evening categorically stated that the dissidents should not be allowed to stage a comeback. A senior minister Shanti Dhariwal vehemently opposed the return of the dissidents. He said that those who worked for the fall of the government should never be allowed to come back. But the high command overruled the demands of the MLAs and allowed Pilot and other dissidents to return.
Congress’ senior leadership played crucial role
It is learned that the party’s high command which entrusted the job of reconciliation to Priyanka Gandhi, Ahmed Patel, KC Venugopal and Mukul Wasnik eventually managed to convince Pilot that saving the government was the concern of all the party members.
After the rounds of meeting with Pilot, at least six of the 18 Congress members siding with Pilot sent feelers that they were ready to leave him. After this assurance from the dissidents, the Congress was in a position to cover the deficit of six BSP MLAs who had joined the party in September last year. These BSP MLAs are facing uncertainty as the issue of their merger is pending before the Rajasthan High Court. There is a fear that the court would restrain the BSP MLAs from voting in case of a trust vote.
It is learned that after getting the support of the six dissidents, the Gehlot camp was satisfied and hoped that half a dozen more would eventually land in the Gehlot camp leaving Pilot before the August 14 Assembly session.
Pilot went for rapprochement
The fissure in the dissident’s camp made Pilot hapless and he went for rapprochement and asked for Priyanka Gandhi’s intervention. Priyanka Gandhi arranged the meeting between Rahul Gandhi and Pilot and a workable formula of “forgive and forget” was forged on the condition that Pilot would not demand the removal of Gehlot as the Chief Minister. An assurance was taken from Pilot that he would not try to topple the government and would remain faithful to the party.
Now the dissidents will return to the party’s fold from their hiding and would return to Jaipur and attend the party’s meeting.
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