Rajasthan Congress leader Sachin Pilot met with party colleagues Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi today for a second time in less than a week. The Gandhis want Mr Pilot to be in-charge of Gujarat, where assembly elections will be held next year, sources have said.
Mr Pilot, however, continues to insist on extracting an assurance of being made Rajasthan Chief Minister, sources have said. This meeting is being seen as an attempt by the Gandhis to defer a leadership change in Rajasthan.
The 45-minute discussion between Mr Pilot and the Gandhis in Delhi comes days after the Congress settled its affairs in neighbouring Punjab – where elections are also due early next year – by appointing a new chief minister.
Whether Mr Pilot, 44, has agreed to manage the Congress’s Gujarat campaign is not known; however, he is known to have his own ambitions in Rajasthan, where Ashok Gehlot, 70, is the Chief Minister.
Mr Pilot has been waiting to see his loyalists inducted into the Rajasthan cabinet, and this matter was likely discussed during his meeting with the Gandhis.
Mr Gehlot has been under pressure for a while to go for a cabinet expansion to accommodate Mr Pilot’s loyalists. So far the Chief Minister has resisted making the changes that his party leadership had promised to Mr Pilot, who was Deputy Chief Minister till June last year when he was made to resign by the party.
Mr Gehlot – already a two-time Chief Minister by 2018 – was made the Chief Minister after the Congress won the assembly election that year. But it was not an easy decision for the party as Mr Pilot was also eyeing the top post. The younger Congress leader is credited with rebuilding the party. He was made Rajasthan Congress chief after the party’s washout in the 2013 state election.
Last year, Mr Pilot supported by 18 Congress MLAs ended a month-long revolt against Mr Gehlot only after a meeting with the Gandhis, who apparently assured him that their grievances would be heard by a three-member committee that includes Priyanka Gandhi.