Rajasthan Congress leader Sachin Pilot’s remarks at an event on Thursday that he will be around in politics “for the next 50 years” comes only days after his party colleague and Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot said he is “not going anywhere for the next 15-20 years”.
Mr Pilot, 44, had revolted last year and spent days in Delhi with a group of rebel MLAs, insisting on a better role in Rajasthan. He has not given up on his ambitions in the state. He met with Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on September 24, the second meeting in less than a week, fuelling intense speculation days after a leadership change in neighbouring Congress-ruled Punjab, where Charanjit Singh Channi replaced Captain Amarinder Singh as the Chief Minister.
At an event on October 2, Mr Gehlot had said that after his angioplasty, he was fit and fine and not going anywhere for the next 15-20 years. “I will return to power and form government again,” Mr Gehlot had said, in a clear message that he holds the reins in Rajasthan.
Mr Pilot had so far not commented on the swipe, and even went campaigning with Mr Gehlot and Congress leader Ajay Maken for a by-election to be held on October 30. A photo of the three leaders shared by the Congress was seen by many as the party’s attempt to present a united face in the state leadership.
However, Mr Pilot seemed to have broken his silence. At a book release in Jaipur on Thursday, when a participant commended Mr Pilot for “covering so many work in such a short span”, the Congress leader replied, “I am here for 50 years and I am not going anywhere. I will complete all the unfinished work.”
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 forced to resign.
Mr Gehlot – already a two-time Chief Minister by 2018 – was made the Chief Minister again 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 after its 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.