Express News Service
JAIPUR: In Rajasthan, senior Congress leader and state party-in-charge Ajay Maken’s recent praise for Sachin Pilot has angered many in the Ashok Gehlot camp.
To mollify the Pilot camp, Maken had a few days ago described Pilot as a star campaigner who cannot be ignored by anybody.
In retaliation, the six ex-BSP MLAs and 13 independents supporting the Gehlot government have formed a special G-19 group as Gehlot supporters.
The G-19 group is likely to meet on June 23 to lobby with the party High Command and ensure that these 19 loyal MLAs are adequately rewarded in the cabinet expansion and political appointments that are due in the state.
Political analysts believe this is a strategy evolved by the Gehlot camp to neutralize the pressure tactics of the Pilot camp to corner power sharing in the proposed cabinet expansion and political appointments.
After Sachin Pilot returned to Jaipur after a rather fruitless trip to Delhi last week, it was widely believed that he had been snubbed by the Congress High Command and it would be CM Gehlot who would call the shots in the upcoming cabinet expansion and political appointments.
But with Ajay Maken calling Pilot a ‘star and an asset for the party’ who is regularly in touch with Priyanka Gandhi has upset many in the Gehlot camp.
As a result, the G-19 front of 6 ex-BSP MLAs and 13 independents has been specially formed and they will soon hold a meeting for which the Agenda has been kept wide open.
As one MLA revealed on condition of anonymity, “the Agenda for the G-19 meet is open. All that is happening in the Congress will be discussed. Also, the long-pending cabinet expansion and political appointments will also be considered. We will also discuss what is being done for those who were loyal to the Congress and ensured the survival of the party government in the state. We want a discussion on what rewards are to be given to those who were loyal to the party.”
Many of the leaders linked to this G-19 front have been critical of the Pilot camp in recent weeks. Now, all eyes are focussed on the meeting of this group planned for June 23.
Many of these leaders have even met CM Gehlot in the recent past.
The six former BSP MLAs who joined the Congress two years ago have openly attacked the Pilot camp in the past week and one of them, MLA Sandeep Yadav had caused quite a storm by calling the Pilot camp MLAs as ‘traitors.”
Most political observers in Rajasthan believe that the G-19 front of 6 ex-BSP MLAs and 13 independents has been specially formed as a powerful tool for the Gehlot camp.
They are likely to intensify pressure on the Congress High Command not to succumb to the excessive demands of the Pilot camp.
As is well known, Sachin Pilot had led an open revolt along with 18 Congress MLAs against the leadership of CM Gehlot and created a huge political crisis last year.
However, in the period since then, Pilot has neither been able to increase the number of MLAs in his camp nor has he been able to strike a deal with the BJP.
In fact, Pilot’s strength has only weakened as some MLAs who supported him last year, like Bhanwar Lal Sharma and Vishwendra Singh, are now said to be rebuilding their equations with Gehlot.
With the G-19 front of six ex-BSP MLAs and 13 independents being formed, Pilot’s problems seem set to increase. As tensions between the Gehlot and Pilot camp intensify, factionalism in the state Congress continues to be a huge headache.