The two-day tour of Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi to Rajasthan seems to have helped the Congress unit to bring its factions together after a long time. The state Congress, which received a drubbing in the Assembly polls in 2013 and in the subsequent Lok Sabha polls, is currently on a wake-up mode.
While Rahul Gandhi’s visit was aimed at raising the issues of farmers, corruption charges against the BJP, closure of schools and revival of schemes introduced by Ashok Gehlot government, it also helped the party to bring together its rank and file against the Vasundhara Raje government.
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Even as the one-upmanship in the state unit between PCC president Sachin Pilot and former chief minister Ashok Gehlot had left party workers disillusioned, Rahul Gandhi’s visit has helped Pilot to retain his leadership role in the state.
Be it on his 9-km padyatra in Hanumangarh or his address to the party workers in Jaipur on Friday, Pilot led the show, though senior leaders including Gehlot were in attendance. It was Pilot who had hand-picked Hanumangarh for Rahul’s tour, an area that was rarely visited by leaders due to its poor connectivity.
Rahul’s tour, which was planned to the last detail by Pilot, addressed a variety of issues that the party has been raising since the BJP government came to power in December 2013. To pull it off, Pilot brought in the Youth Congress, the only faction in the party that warmed up to him soon after his arrival in state politics last year.
However, Gehlot, who might have lost ground due to the abysmal performance in the assembly polls, still has a large base of loyalists within the party and cannot be dismissed.
According to party insiders, Gehlot continues to be held in high regard by Congress president Sonia Gandhi with whom he had worked since his early days in the Congress.
On Friday, when Rahul admitted that there were ‘differences’ within the party that he once thought could be ‘resolved’ but no longer feels is possible, it was a loud and clear admission of what party workers had long been discussing in hushed tones. Rahul went as far to say that Pilot and Gehlot should both use each other’s strengths — Gehlot’s experience and Pilot’s energy — adding, “Pilot, like me does not have much experience but has power and energy.”