Sachin Pilot assuming his new role as Congress Rajasthan unit chief amid a rousing welcome by party workers was like a breath of fresh air for the sagging morale of the party in the state. A crowd of supporters received him at the airport and trailed him to the party office for a public meeting, a much-needed sight for the party that suffered a drubbing in the assembly elections.
The Member of Parliament, who kept himself away from the political circle in state capital Jaipur, never once stopping by and heading straight to his constituency in Ajmer from Sanganer airport, such reception must have been encouraging. There is reluctant acceptance from the party’s old guard who seem to have come around for now but could throw a spanner in the works when he least expects it.
His initial hesitance to take charge of the party reduced to a handful in the assembly perhaps stemmed from the impossibility of salvaging it. His naysayers do not have any doubt that Pilot has an uphill task and for one with little experience in state organisational matters, it is asking for too much in too little time.
At a time when Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje, fresh from the assembly poll victory has launched campaign ‘Mission 25’, to win all 25 parliamentary seats in the state, of which 20 are held by the Congress including Pilot’s, the party has some massive restructuring to do.
Infusing fresh blood is one thing, and expecting it to bring immediate results is another. Pilot too is aware of the flutter within the party ever since his name started doing the rounds for the top post and in said that ‘even if there are differences within the party, he is committed to bridge the gap.’
In the present scenario, what works in favour of Pilot is his articulate ways. The Congress state unit has always been grappling with allegations from a social-media-savvy BJP that scuttled Ashok Gehlot’s chances in the assembly poll with a media blitzkrieg. Smarting from the ignominious defeat, the former chief minister and the party consistently hit back at BJP calling it ‘number one in publicity.’
Pilot seems Congress’ best bet, when pitted against an eloquent Raje. Pilot, as he maintained in a veiled threat to the BJP-led government, will keep ‘raising issues within and outside the Assembly.’
To begin with, he hit out at the Raje government over the Pratapgarh communal violence that killed three recently.
Ahead of parliamentary polls, the BJP that already has come up with a dedicated committee to draw up allegations against UPA and the former Gehlot government will now have to keep a force ready to deal with allegations directed at itself. Pilot’s biggest contribution to a defensive and dithering Congress unit could be to give some teeth to the party.