Rajasthan Governor Kalraj Mishra on July 29 finally approved the revised proposal sent by the state government requesting to convene a special Assembly session on August 14.
Meanwhile, Sachin Pilot whose rebellion precipitated this crisis in Rajasthan is missing from the scene. So where exactly is he? We have not heard from him in a while now.
He is most likely deliberating with his strategists on his next plan of action. He needs more MLAs (than the 18 who have pledged support to him) to bring down the Gehlot government which seems to be his top priority.
However, his oft-repeated statement of not joining the Bharatiya Janata Party, unlike his friend Jyotiraditya Scindia, has surprised political pundits.
If he is not joining the BJP, what will his next plan of action be? More so, when the Congress High Command is seen backing Rajasthan Chief Minister Gehlot in this ego battle.
So why is Pilot so categorical about not joining the BJP? There are six solid reasons for it:
1. Main objective will be fulfilled anyway
Sachin Pilot’s ultimate objective is to bring down the Gehlot government. He does not really care what happens to him or his career. The animosity between him and Gehlot has reached such levels that Pilot is on the path of ‘hum to doobenge sanam, tumko bhi le doobenge’ (I will take you down with me). This can be achieved even without joining the BJP. In a trust vote, the BJP will have to vote against the Gehlot government. As James Fahy put it, ‘Nothing unites humans like a common enemy.’
2. Closes options for him
Joining the BJP will close options for Sachin. The door to come back to the Congress will be closed for ever if he joins the BJP. However, if he forms a regional party, chances are he can get back with the Congress in the future, like N D Tiwari (Tiwari Congress), Madhavrao Scindia (MP Vikas Congress) and others. This provides him more flexibility.
3. Could open a front of Young Turks within the Congress
After Scindia’s exit, many young Congressmen expressed their displeasure and said the High Command should have done more to keep him in the party fold.
These include leaders like Milind Deora, Jitin Prasada, Kuldeep Bishnoi, Deepender Singh Hooda, Sanjay Jha, Nagma, to name a few.
The same people again expressed shock at the handling of the Rajasthan crisis. Even Kapil Sibal tweeted, ‘Worried for our party. Will we wake up only after the horses have bolted from our stables?’
Sachin could be a rebel and oppose its policies and programs like his father Rajesh Pilot did in 1997 when he contested against Sitaram Kesri for the Congress president’s post. He could emerge as a rallying point of Congressmen, dissenters and Young Turks in the party, forcing the High Command and old guard to take note and make amends.
4. Life in the BJP will not be easy
Pilot may not have a smooth run in the BJP where he could face significant competition. While in the Congress, he is number 2 in Rajasthan and part of the highest decision making body, CWC, in the BJP he may not enjoy the same stature.
BJP has many stalwarts like Vasundhara Raje, Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, Om Mathur and others in Rajasthan. He may be reduced to a state-level leader in the BJP.
Congress people who have joined the BJP have not had great success, like Choudhary Birendra Singh, Najma Heptullah, Krishna Tirath, to name a few. The dynasty tag will continue to haunt him in the BJP, where unlike in the Congress, common party workers like Narendra Modi and Amit Shah have risen up the ranks.
5. Emulate successful model of Mamata, Pawar, Jagan
Sachin may float a regional party. Maybe he feels that having a regional party tag might help convince the BJP to provide him outside support and make him the chief minister. However, it won’t be that easy.
He may be inspired by Mamata Banerjee (West Bengal / Trinamool Congress), Sharad Pawar (Maharashtra / Nationalist Congress Party) and Jagamohan Reddy (Andhra / YSR Congress) who formed their own regional outfits and have emerged as powerful satraps.
TMC and YSRCP have emerged as the new Congress in Bengal and Andhra Pradesh.
By forming a regional party, Sachin would achieve the purpose of ‘atma samman’ (self respect), showing his importance to the party High Command and denting the Congress’s prospects in Rajasthan.
6. Keeps his secular credentials
Pilot represents the Tonk Assembly seat, which is a Muslim-dominated constituency with over 55,000 minority community voters. The BJP fielded its sole Muslim candidate in Rajasthan 2018 polls from this seat. Pilot won by a thumping margin of over 54,000 votes. He wouldn’t want to shed his secular image and rather try to emerge as the real Congress in the state.
To sum up, Pilot clearly doesn’t want to play in the hands of the BJP and this helps him keep his options open. He was the deputy chief minister in the Congress government, why would he want to join the BJP without being offered the chief ministerial position?
He will bargain hard before taking any such step. For now he has to come up with a plan to throttle Gehlot's government as his first attempt seems to be failing.