It goes without saying that Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot has emerged stronger after winning the trust vote in the state Assembly, thus establishing his supremacy in the Congress, and also providing a lesson to the BJP on what power politics was all about. In sharp contrast, Sachin Pilot, who raised a banner of revolt to challenge his leadership, appeared reconciled with the outcome, following weeks of turmoil that had resulted in instability. He had apparently chewed more than what he could digest, and his attempt to replicate Jyotiraditya Scindia did not succeed, primarily because he did not have the required numbers, and second, he negotiated with the wrong people in the BJP, to topple the Gehlot government. In addition, Jyotiraditya’s aunt, Vasundhara Raje, who is the most effective BJP functionary in the state, was not enthusiastic in unseating the Congress government , since she would not have been the beneficiary, if such an act took place. As a mature and perceptive politician, she figured that if someone was installed as the CM with the BJP’s backing, her chances for the next round of Assembly elections would stand totally diminished. Her reluctance to come on board also became a contributory factor in saving the Gehlot government.
However, the Rajasthan Chief Minister deserves full marks in ensuring that none of the MLAs loyal to him during this crisis, drifted towards the other camp. In fact, there were reports that some MLAs who had sworn allegiance to Pilot, were eager to return to the Congress, given their proposed defection was not making any difference to the government. No MLA is prepared to risk his permanent estrangement from the establishment, as it would amount to negligible help to his Assembly constituency.
Gehlot is aware of the pivotal issues in the state and did not allow his adversaries to checkmate him. The reality is that it was not the intervention by the Congress high command that came to the CM’s rescue, but his own astuteness and resolve to fight it out. Both Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Vadra merely came into the scene for optics. If they indeed would have had a say in the matter, they would never have permitted Pilot to be so publicly humiliated; he was assigned the second-row seat in the Assembly, in close proximity to the benches occupied by the BJP. It is also not certain that the MLAs who momentarily deserted the party to be with Pilot, would be accommodated in key positions in the government.
Gehlot would first like to reward those who stood by him, instead of bowing down before legislators whose loyalty is questionable. For the sake of form and propriety, he may include one or two in his Cabinet, but shall keep the cabinet expansion exercise in abeyance. After all, Gehlot has been around for nearly 50 years in the Congress. Pilot must never repeat the same mistakes after losing the power struggle. Redemption is not easy in politics, even for the young.