It could have been an eyeball grabbing confrontation of two rebels. Sachin Pilot will be campaigning in Gwalior, the turf of Jyotiraditya Scindia on Tuesday. But Scindia will be away, campaigning for his new party — the BJP — in Malwa region.
Pilot and Scindia present the two sides to the rebel story within the Congress. In fact, Congress social media has already begun to pitch the "war" between the two as a battle between "tikaau and bikaau". This refers to Sachin Pilot's decision to stay with the Congress and Scindia's to leave and join the enemy camp (BJP).
Both represent the relatively new, "younger" and less baggage carrying faces. And there is a strategy of the Congress behind making him campaign in some parts of Madhya Pradesh for the bypolls and choosing Gwalior. Congress wants to show to Scindia that loyalty pays and that Sachin Pilot is not being viewed as only a Rajasthan face but will be their national leader as well. In fact, after campaigning in Madhya Pradesh, Pilot will head for Bihar to campaign there as well.
Congress taunts Scindia for being relegated to playing second fiddle to Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and not getting anything for joining the BJP except a Rajya Sabha berth, which a senior Congress leader says "he would have got in the Congress too if he had stayed on".
There is a basic difference to what both Pilot and Scindia brought to the table. Scindia was a prize catch for the BJP as he was one of the closest to Rahul Gandhi. In fact, Gandhi had acknowledged after Scindia's exit "he was one of the few who could always come to my house and meet me without prior appointment".
When News18.com repeatedly asked Scindia about Rahul Gandhi, he refused to say a word except that he "believes in dignity of silence".
Coming back to what the two rebels got to the table, when Scindia resigned from the Congress to join the BJP, 22 MLAs too left the party to join the BJP. This was seen as a clout of the Gwalior ka maharaja. And this is why its important for Scindia to be able to deliver once again in the bypolls to ensure he is not seen as a flash in the pan for the BJP.
As for Pilot, when he drove down to Delhi with over 15 MLAs and remained incognito to his party for over a fortnight, many within the BJP looked at him wondering whether he would be able to deliver like Scindia. Unlike MP, in Rajasthan, Congress doesn’t have a wafer thin majority which is why the BJP was hoping that Pilot would be able to break more. This didn't happen as the Gandhis too learnt a lesson and didn't repeat the mistake they made in the case of Scindia.
They kept in touch with Pilot and ensured he came back "home". Pilot has gone back with Gehlot after being stripped off his PCC and ministerial post. But there is an assurance that Pilot's demands would be eventually met. The cabinet reshuffle to accommodate Pilot's men is yet to take place. Scindia in contrast was able to ensure that some of his people were accommodated in the Shivraj cabinet.
But as Pilot hits the lanes of Gwalior, the question is 'will he attack Scindia?' Highly unlikely as he may focus on his attacks on the BJP and Shivraj Singh Chouhan. Sources say that while Pilot was sulking in Delhi, Scindia was in touch with him.
Scindia is believed to have sympathised with him while acknowledging the fact that in the Congress talent is never paid. Scindia told News18.com, "I accepted the fact that I was not made PCC and someone else was made chief minister. I had a little contribution to formation of the Congress government in Madhya Pradesh. But posts are not what I hankered for."
When Scindia's complaint to the Gandhis that he was being sidelined by Digvijaya Singh and Kamal Nath fell on deaf ears, he realised that it was time to pack his bags. Pilot too had a similar problem but his rebellion didn't pay off.
When News18.com asked Scindia whether he thought Pilot should have quit the party, Scindia again refused to give any comment.
So while Scindia has emerged as the successful rebel, Pilot has the one who has touched the pause button. And the Congress would love this confrontation to make things awkward for Scindia, who was one of the best friends of Pilot till he joined the enemy camp.